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Why Trucking Companies Should Support Driver Health

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Truck drivers keep your company moving—literally. So it’s only natural that the physical and mental health of your drivers is a top priority, both to ensure safety on the road and to promote healthy behaviors, improve employee satisfaction, and decrease driver turnover.

In this article, we’ll explore a variety of ways that trucking companies can support and promote both the mental and physical health of their drivers—and why it’s so important.

Why Is Truck Driver Health So Important?

There’s no denying that trucking is a difficult job, both mentally and physically. And when drivers aren’t giving their physical and mental health enough attention, they put themselves and other motorists at risk. A healthy driver is more alert and productive, has greater decision-making capabilities, and is less prone to accidents.

In addition to directly benefiting the driver’s safety and reducing chronic health issues, focusing on driver health is also beneficial for trucking companies. Healthier drivers generally have higher job satisfaction and have longer careers in trucking, which results in lower turnover rates and less time spent sourcing and hiring new employees.

Staying Physically Healthy on the Road

The unfortunate truth is that a job in trucking can make it easy to adopt unhealthy habits. Irregular sleep schedules, eating on the go, and long hours alone in the cab all make it just a little bit harder to focus on maintaining overall health. But the good news is that there are many ways you can support your drivers in making small changes that can make a big impact on their health.

Promote a balanced diet

Let’s be honest: truck stops and fast food restaurants aren’t bursting with nutrient-dense healthy food options. And when drivers are on a tight schedule, they don’t always have time to find a meal that will keep them full, nourished, and satisfied.

Here are ways to encourage drivers to make maintaining a balanced diet a number one priority.

  • Emphasize the importance of a balanced diet. When on the road, it can be tempting for drivers to base their diet on the quick and easy meals and snacks available. And while eating those convenient options in moderation is usually fine, it’s really important that the foundation of their diet is balanced and varied. Encourage drivers to focus on eating fruits and vegetables to get essential vitamins and minerals, lots of whole grains for fiber and other nutrients, and healthy proteins like poultry, beans, fish, and nuts. Make sure they know about apps that can help them make sure all their nutritional needs are being met.
  • Suggest planning meals before hitting the road. Having a plan before hitting the road means drivers won’t scramble to find a good meal on a time crunch. Offer meal and snack planning resources that will help them shop before their next haul. Highlight the benefits of grabbing fruits and veggies, whole grain bread, nut butter, lean deli meat, and trail mix to make sure they’re getting in all the food groups. Offer meal prep ideas that are simple and cost-effective and tips to get started.
  • Offer nutritional resources. We get it—when drivers are on the road, it’s difficult to avoid eating out every now and then. But even when stopping by their favorite restaurants, there are more nutritional options. Offer resources that help them make good choices. Apps like Calorie Counter offer nutritional information on foods and restaurant menu options to make decisions easy.

Encourage exercise

We don’t need to tell you that trucking involves a lot of sitting. All that sedentary time isn’t great for a driver’s health. It’s important for them to incorporate movement into their days. Even something as simple as a brisk walk when they stop to fuel up can make a huge difference. Other ways you can encourage your drivers to get enough exercise are:

  • Offer gym memberships. Consider offering a free or discounted gym membership. Trucker-friendly gyms like Planet Fitness offer locations nationwide, truck parking, and facilities to shower and clean up before hitting the road again.
  • Provide workout equipment. Providing drivers with fitness equipment like dumbbells, resistance bands, and kettlebells to keep in their trucks makes squeezing in a workout while on the road even easier. With just a few simple pieces of equipment, drivers can increase their endurance, strength, balance, and overall fitness, even with limited time and space. Exercise also increases endorphins to improve mental health, which can take a toll on the road.
  • Suggest a fitness app. There are plenty of apps out there that can help drivers find a fitness routine. Iron Trucker is available for iOS and Android and is designed specifically to help truck drivers stay fit on the road.

Help Drivers Manage Their Mental Health

The stress and loneliness of long hauls and time spent away from family and friends can all negatively affect drivers’ mental health. In a society that doesn’t always make it easy or comfortable to talk about mental health struggles, it’s essential that trucking companies take proactive steps to support their drivers’ mental health.

  • Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs offer free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, and referrals to other healthcare providers to aid employees in dealing with a host of situations, including general mental and emotional well-being, grief support, stress, and family problems. By offering an EAP, your employees have easy access to support when they need it most.
  • Provide access to counseling and other mental health resources. Having access to a counselor or other mental health professionals can be a lifeline for a driver struggling with their mental health. Professional mental health support can make a huge difference for drivers experiencing depression, anxiety, chronic loneliness, or other struggles. By offering telehealth services, drivers can keep in contact with their counselors while on the road.
  • Encourage social connections. Having meaningful connections can ease some of the pain and stress of loneliness and isolation on the road. Encourage drivers to keep in contact with friends and family back home and make connections with fellow drivers.

Offer Healthcare Initiatives for Drivers

Supporting truck driver health goes beyond providing drivers with information and resources for on the road—though that’s incredibly important! But specific, organized overall health initiatives are effective ways to positively impact truck drivers’ brains and bodies.

  • Regular healthcare check-ups. Being on the road can make it difficult for drivers to get in to see a doctor, so creating programs and initiatives that make it easier for drivers to see a doctor on the clock encourages participation. Offering telehealth services also ensures drivers can have appointments even when they’re on the road.
  • Ergonomic truck design. Instituting ergonomic seats and sleeping arrangements can greatly impact driver health. Drivers spend hours a day in the cab, and comfortable seats designed to support their bodies prevent injury and strain. Restful sleep on the road can also be difficult, so any steps trucking companies can take to make it easier for their drivers to create comfortable sleeping cabins help them be well-rested and alert.

Everyone Benefits from Healthy Drivers

Being a part of the trucking industry can put truck drivers at risk of both physical and mental health problems, which is why it’s essential for trucking companies to do everything possible to support driver health. By establishing healthcare initiatives and providing drivers with resources and information to better their health, you can promote the well-being of your employees, improve safety and efficiency on the road, and keep your program driving forward.

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