Does poor driver health affect driver safety? Yes, it does. Fatigue, which can be due to health risks, was noted in 13% of commercial motor vehicle accidents according to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) sited a survey revealing, “…69% of long haul drivers were obese and 54% smoked. Additionally, 88% of long-haul truck drivers reported having at least one risk factor (hypertension, smoking, and obesity) for chronic disease, compared to only 54% of the general U.S. adult working population.” In an FMCSA sponsored study, Commercial Truck and Bus Safety, they list the following health and safety driver risks, “…sleep-work periods conflicting with the body’s biological and circadian rhythms; inadequate exercise opportunities; poor diet and nutrition; and environmental stressors. All of these factors make commercial drivers particularly prone to health problems.” These health risks can lead to lack of concentration, mental and physical fatigue, and health emergencies that put driver safety at risk.
Why Should Carriers Care About Driver Health?
As good business people, they know, it will save them money in the long haul (pun intended). There’s a driver shortage in America, carriers are fighting driver turnover caused by retiring boomers and a lack of young people coming into the industry. Healthy and happy employees seldom quit their jobs, they cost the company less in health benefits, and they cause fewer accidents, reducing insurance, and equipment repair costs. Keeping drivers healthy is good business.
What Can Carriers do?
• Promote healthy initiatives such as Truckload Carriers Association weight loss challenge.
• Distribute memberships to national fitness gyms and franchises.
• Begin a wellness program and offer wellness coaching.
• Educate employees on healthy eating habits.
• Offer smoking cessation programs.
Driver health, road safety, and carriers are interconnected. Improving driver conditioning improves driver safety and lowers carrier costs. Ignoring the increasing health problems of drivers isn’t prudent or realistic. Carriers who are pro-active with driver’s health will themselves become more profitable through fewer turnovers and reduced health related expenses—they’ll be healthier.