STAYING FIT TO DRIVE
Today we want to talk about a topic that we all wish we didn’t have to. Driver health!
It’s not a fun thing to think about. Whether you’re a trucker or a recruiter, this form can seem awfully intimidating. And we all know that the lifestyle on the road isn’t exactly conducive to healthy living. It can feel like something that’s out of your control. And yet, medical disqualifications are very real.
The challenges to drivers’ health are legion. To start out, there’s age. According to NTI data, 30.2% of CDLs are between 45 and 54 years old. Another 20% range from 55 to 64. Less than 20% of drivers are under 35 years old. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but with aging comes more frequent health problems.
Then there’s the sedentary lifestyle that driving entails. Remember when we first heard that sitting is the new smoking? While there’s some degree of disagreement over the degree of harm, you would be hard pressed to find a health professional that recommends sitting for more than 8 hours per day. But you know who has to do that for work? Truck drivers.
Tack on the food options and high rates of smoking that are ubiquitous among drivers, and it’s no wonder that obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome rates are so much higher than in the general population. And don’t even get us started on the sleep apnea monster. Check out this FMCSA study for some scary statistics on that disorder. Put it all together, and you’ve got a situation that’s ripe for medical disqualifications.
None of us wants a driver to have to leave the job for medical reasons. And while that isn’t completely in any of our control, there are still steps you can take to minimize disqualifications.
Outside of the drivers themselves, who’s the most in tune with the trucker lifestyle? That would be you! And that means that there’s an opportunity to encourage your employees to take care of themselves.
Driver wellness is a topic that the National Transportation Institute coaches on, because we care about it deeply. So much so that Leah Shaver is on the board for Fit to Pass, a driver health initiative.
If you’re reading this blog, it’s probably because you too care about your company’s success and your drivers’ wellbeing. So we’re guessing that you already offer health benefits. Are your drivers utilizing them?
At NTI, we advise companies on not only the kinds of benefits to offer, but on how to continually sell those advantages to your drivers. As Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer of Fit to Pass explains, “Early education is key. Companies ought to provide their drivers with education material and simple steps to follow. Awareness plus accessibility equals results.”
In other words, your benefits work best in tandem with messaging that ensures drivers use them. After all, it doesn’t matter how great a benefits package is if it doesn’t get used!
Health isn’t an HR or wellness issue, it’s a recruiting issue. We could fill the page with suggestions for staving off medical disqualifications, but our first recommendation is to give us a call.
Here’s to keeping drivers fit, healthy, and happy on the road!