Driver Wellness On The Road
With drivers making longer runs, facing limited options for food and weight issues, one of the most lucrative industries in the countries is now facing an initiative to instill good health in their drivers.
The DOT reports that a drop from 94% to 84% of drivers perceived themselves as having good health – this is certainly not a figure to scoff at, but a troubling drop-off in perception nonetheless.
While many factors comprise a driver's health, there's an issue at hand that can be combatted – and many companies are taking initiatives to do so. However, a great deal of power lies in the hands of drivers themselves.
Driver's Health Issues
While many health problems can be attributed to an individual's genetic makeup, external factors nonetheless play a part in the health of a driver. Whether a driver is facing fatigue, malnutrition or other ailments, drivers cite multiple reasons for a supposed decline in health.
One factor is a driver's diet on the road. Many drivers are left with little options due to time constraints or geographical location and they must resort to cheap fast food. While the occasional fast food meal can have relatively little effect on a driver, continued fast food consumption may lead to a serious bout of malnutrition as well as obesity.
Truckers may also have a problem with fatigue and sleep cycles on the road. For nearly every driver, fatigue comes into play when making a route and "going through the motions." For the drivers with routes that require them to sleep in their cab, there is greater potential for lack of sleep or the inability to establish deep R.E.M. sleep cycles. For a profession that requires a person to be highly attentive on the road, sleep is absolutely crucial to functioning properly.
Another large concern for driver's health is lack of mobility. Many drivers are sitting upright for hours on end, only breaking to lie down in their sleeper or to move freight at a location (though some may not even do this.) Because of this, drivers may experience great deals of stiffness, soreness and muscle tension. Drivers may not often have the opportunity to exercise and use these muscles, so muscle mass decrease may occur as well.
How To Combat The Problem
Despite health concerns in the trucking community, many answers lie within striking an understanding and fair balance between driver and carrier.
The DOT has provided truckers with many solutions for their problems, and with the cooperation of employers, the perception of so-called "negative health" can easily be reversed.
One solution is simply providing drivers with adequate knowledge in finding affordable and nutritious food on their routes. By giving drivers a map of locations that they can access easily for food, they won't have to depend on the usual burger joint just to get through the day. Alternatively, drivers can also be encouraged to bring along healthy snacks that they can easily store in the cab – fruits, vegetables and nuts are all great alternatives to fried foods.
Drivers with a sleeper cab can also improve their sleeping habits on the road. By establishing a bed time routine, the body begins to know when to shut down for the night and drivers are able to fall asleep with more ease. For a more conducive sleep, drivers are also encouraged to put away electronic devices before beginning their bedtime ritual. Electronic devices are often unnecessary stimulus and can inhibit a person's ability to fall into a deep slumber.
Because it is so important for a driver to be active, the DOT suggests that drivers get out of their cab when possible and walk for a bit – perhaps when at a truck stop or when resting during their drive. There are also many exercises and stretches that a driver can do within their cab/in the doorway of their cab to reduce pains and aches and to utilize their muscles correctly.
What Can Carriers Do?
A large part of the solution also lies within the companies dispatching drivers. Companies who supply drivers with information regarding health issues before they arise is the primary step to wellness.
A carrier ought to be flexible with drivers – by giving them options and a level of freedom in being able to act within their best, health-conscious interests is very important to a driver's well-being.
Companies should also be compelled to supply their drivers with excellent and comprehensive health plans. Providing drivers with access to professional health care is crucial to thriving in their careers.
Express Truck Driving Jobs has been committed to the health and happiness of their drivers. With benefits packages that are among the best in the field as well as the ability to talk openly about one's health has always been a tenant of the operations at Express Truck Driving Jobs. At our company, we have the tools, the knowledge and the information to help drivers be physically well on the job. Call today and learn more about how drivers excel with Express Truck Driving Jobs.