While it’s easy to monitor speeding, fuel and braking with a telematics system, it’s not so easy to track stress, fatigue and fitness. Yet factors related to truck driver health have a big impact. Truck driving is physically and mentally demanding work. Your team use dexterity, hand eye co-ordination and stamina to get the job done. And yet, the well-being of drivers is often seen as secondary.
The following statistics regarding diet, lifestyle and health show why this is a problem:
- 27% of drivers drink just 5-6 cups of water per day and 19% drink 4-5. The medically recommended minimum is 8.
- Truckers in the US are significantly more likely to suffer from obesity and diabetes than the national average.
- 60% of professional drivers in the UK eat and drink the majority of their food in their vehicles and 56% consider themselves overweight.
- 10% of drivers say they’ve quite a job because of stress and 25% say they have considered it.
- 1 in 10 people who drive a vehicle for work purposes admit they’ve fallen asleep behind the wheel
- 26% of truckers report feeling depressed and 14% report feeling anxiety
- 20% of accidents on major roadways are sleep related and 40% of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles
- A mildly dehydrated driver will make twice as many errors
What can fleet managers do?
Healthy initiatives and benefits
Consider adding a nutrition workshop to your initiation schedule, offering a free or discounted gym membership to new employees and creating a company sports team to encourage healthier behaviour.
Regular mind and body checks
Some transport companies have introduced a voluntary health check for all their drivers. This helps identify signs of issues common in the role, including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, stress and depression. You can then encourage drivers who are at risk to take specific action to improve their condition, including, in extreme cases, a temporary break from work.
Hydration, food and drink
Encourage drivers to eat their meals outside their cab, ideally sitting down at a table, with enough time to properly digest their food before they start work again. Skipping meals to get on the road quicker, particularly breakfast, should be strictly discouraged – the initial time saved will not be worth the dangerous energy crash that comes when their body runs out of fuel later in the day. For similar reasons, sugary snacks that give a short-term energy boost followed by a long crash should be avoided entirely while working.
Apples, walnuts, dark chocolate and wholegrain crackers with cheese are much better options that have been shown to keep drivers alert for longer.
A cleaner and more comfortable environment
Small things can make it much easier to maintain truck driver health. Items like driving gloves, a noise cancelling phone headset, a portable vacuum cleaner, hand sanitiser and basic grooming tools will all help the driver feel fresh and comfortable and make his cab feel like a less stressful place to be.
Plan and schedule realistically
One good way to reduce driver stress is to plan and schedule efficiently. By setting reliable routes and manageable estimated times of arrival you can help ensure your driver doesn’t become overwhelmed by the workload.
How can technology help truck driver health, well-being and fitness?
Better route planning
A fleet management solution can do more than just track vehicles. It can offer regular, accurate updates on things like traffic, weather conditions, road incidents, diversions and other information that could lengthen a driver’s journey and add to their workload.
The driver’s in-cab device can make communication with the office a much simpler and less distracting process for the driver. The PRO 8375 TRUCK, for example, offers text to speech, reading your messages aloud so the driver doesn’t need to stop to get a change of plan or vital update.
Better visibility of remaining driving times
By automating the recording of your drivers’ working times, you can get a clear view of how long each of your team has left in their day. This will stop you from setting them tasks that are unrealistic for them to attempt in the current shift.
Proof when another road user causes an accident
In-vehicle cameras record when another road user causes an accident with your driver. This helps the driver stay calm on the road, knowing that if they are in a collision and it’s somebody else’s fault, the video will prove them right.