The drivers of a commercial fleet have one of the unhealthiest careers. In the United States, a fleet driver is permitted to drive for a maximum of 11 hours before having to leave the captain’s chair for ten hours. In an eight (8) day period, drivers are only allowed to have 70 hours of road time before being required to be off-duty for 34 hours. This career is so detrimental to an individual's health because of the lack of activity that occurs in those 11-hour windows – 95% of this time is spent motionlessly seated – as well as the less-than-healthy food choices that litter the American Interstate system. This lack of daily action and poor diet leads to a myriad of internal issues that cause the average life expectancy of a fleet driver to be 61 years. In addition to concern for the well being of the fleet operators, Accident Analysis & Prevention recently found a strong correlation between a driver's obesity and their chances of falling victim to a vehicular accident (full study). Fortunately, there are in depth resources for a fleet manager to adopt for the development of an engaging wellness program so that drivers can expect to live long and fruitful lives.
Tips for a Healthy Driving Lifestyle
The greatest roadblock for improving health as a driver is limited access to exercise opportunities. However, a gym membership is not needed to get the blood moving and the muscles aching. As a fleet manager, it is your responsibility to encourage drivers to think outside of the box in terms of fitness. A quick, personal gym can be setup in minutes with only resistance bands gallon jugs of water and a jump rope. As a driver who has been sitting for nearly 11 hours straight, when you get to a stopping point, complete your checklist routine and then, instead of sitting or lying down in your sleeper, go be active for 30 minutes; jump rope, jog laps of the truck lot or even just your truck if you are pulled over to the side of the road for the night, and complete a resistance band circuit. This daily activity, while brief, will lead to an uplifted state of well-being as well as reduce the risk of serious medical issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol, sleep apnea and circulation difficulties.
Furthermore, the effects of minimal activity are compounded by the general poor diet that fleet operators often rely upon while on the road. Fast food has proven to be a detriment to the wellness of long-haul drivers nationwide. The ease of access and low cost makes fast food a simple choice to make on the surface. However, the low quality proteins of these establishments, as well as the increased levels of sodium, cholesterol, and complex sugars prove that this is more costly in the long run than spending a few extra dollars on quality dining items.
Thankfully, DrivingHealthy.org has launched as a strong resource for fleets to utilize to stay in good health from desk managers to fleet drivers. This website gives insight into various means of living healthy in a range of environments. In addition to the exercise suggestions, this viable resource provides guides for eating healthy both on the road and at home.
Developing a wellness program for your company needs to be all-inclusive so that those employees lower in the hierarchy witness executives practicing what is being preached. Becoming cognizant of health and wellness is a necessary and easy step to be made in today's fleet driven industries. Proper fleet management is more than making sure that fleet vehicles are properly maintained, you have to make sure that the fleet's most valuable assets – the drivers – are also operating at maximum efficiency.