A lot is going on right now that has us thinking about the health and safety of our drivers. The Covid-19 crisis has forced us to think of ways to protect our people from getting infected and spreading the disease. Civil unrest in many American cities and a few unfortunate incidents have us all thinking about the worst-case scenarios that can come from those situations. But the long-term effects of unhealthy lifestyles and bad habits remain the biggest threats to drivers. We need a preventive maintenance program for driver health!
Helping drivers get and stay healthy should be a central pillar of everybody’s plan. Staying healthy enough to pass a DOT physical is essential to maintaining a valid CDL. But helping drivers live healthy lives is much more than an issue of recruiting and maintaining a workforce. If you care about your people then you have to care about their quality of life both when they are and when they’re not in the cab.
Some drivers live to work and others work to live. Most drivers fall somewhere along the spectrum that runs between those two poles. But no matter where a driver lands, “live” is still a part of the equation. Health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are prevalent in our industry. They’re made worse by higher-than-average rates of smoking and lower-than-average daily exercise. Ignoring these problems won’t make them go away.
We’ve all heard the arguments that bad food and no exercise are just part of the job but the reality is that they don’t have to be. There are tools to help make the transition to “doing things differently” smoother and easier.
Taking Care of Yourself Now Is Preventive Maintenance
What does the average person outside of our industry think of when they think about truck drivers? It doesn’t take a sophisticated polling operation to answer that question. We’re all aware of the stereotypes that people have: black coffee and cigarettes, comfort food at diners and cafes, grab-and-go meals, energy drinks. Unfortunately, for many drivers, the stereotypes aren’t far enough from reality.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 70% of drivers either already have a serious health condition or are on the way to developing one. Too many drivers are either uninsured or under-insured, meaning that they don’t get the kind of routine check-ups and sound medical advice that are needed to reverse that trend. That’s why a preventive maintenance approach to driver health is sorely needed.
It makes sense to do everything that we can to keep our equipment on the road by using preventive maintenance to avoid roadside breakdowns and extended stays in the shop. It’s time to start thinking about ways to make sure that our drivers don’t run-to-failure. It’s more than good business—it’s the right thing to do.
6 Resources for Preventive Maintenance on Driver Health
Reversing a trend like driver health can seem like an impossible goal but just like every big challenge that we face, it’s easier to manage when we break it down into smaller chunks. We can’t snap our fingers and turn all of our drivers into personal trainers overnight. But through a combination of education and support, we can provide the tools that it takes to make better choices and reward drivers for “doing things differently”.
With the tagline “Driving Good Health”, RollingStrong is seeking to partner with fleets and drivers to “change the crisis in driver health”. They focus on providing services that improve a fleet’s health culture and reduce health risks to deliver increased productivity, safety, and wellness. One of the greatest benefits of a partnership with RollingStrong is a mobile app that drivers can use to track their health and get real-time tips. The app integrates with many on-board fleet management systems and makes it possible to set up incentive programs and team or company-wide competitions.
Declaring that “healthy drivers are safer drivers”, the team at HealthyTrucker.com has been developing ways to use today’s technology to promote health and wellness within the trucking industry. They provide resources and education to drivers, O/O’s, and administrative staff across the industry and host regular “Healthy Fleet Challenge” events.
The Healthy Trucking Association of America has been fighting this battle since 1997—long before the industry started to acknowledge the serious work that needs to be done. With powerful partners like Omada, The CDC, The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists, and the American Heart Association, HTAA is a central resource for information and resources. Their partnership with In The Cab Radio makes it easy for drivers to stay up-to-date on the latest need-to-know information about health and wellness.
With the goal of helping fleets and drivers improve health, safety, and wellness, The Mindful Trucker takes a holistic approach to promote better mental health practices in the transportation sector. Their work can help drivers manage relationships through communication strategies, resolve career-related conflicts, and discover their own strengths on the way to finding their flow. The bottom line is the importance of self-care in everyday life.
Truck Drivers Health is a blog that is maintained by Truck Stop Events International. It aims at making healthier choices fun through games and activities but it also provides a lot of really helpful content in the articles that it features. In addition to the information and activities, the blog also allows visitors to make donations and contributions that help to fund the organization’s outreach and education events at truck stops around the country.
Truckers Survival Guide is a blog that is dedicated to providing truckers with the information that they need to get the job done. Their content isn’t specifically focused on driver health and wellness but they publish some pretty useful articles on physical health, relationships, emotional well-being, and nutrition. It’s definitely worth adding to your bookmarks for the articles alone but OTR Truckers will also love the health-related insights that they get from the restaurant and shower facility reviews that are posted by other drivers.
Don’t Wait Until There’s A Problem: Practice Preventive Maintenance
One of our favorite sayings at FleetPal is that the fleets that ‘stay ready’ don’t need to ‘get ready’. Usually, when we say it, we’re talking about preventive maintenance on power units and trailers. But a fleet is only as strong as its weakest link and so we’re trying to shine a light on all of the other areas that come into play when assessing a fleet’s readiness. Healthy drivers is one area where, as an industry, we’ve got a lot of work to do.
Taking care of our people, our industry, and our communities is every bit as important as taking care of our equipment. We hope that you’ll take the time to visit the resources that we profiled in this article and we invite you to share information on any that we missed. Let’s take the time to have the conversation about what we can be doing better so that we can ‘get ready’, ‘be ready’, and ‘stay ready’ together.