A recent shift in the trucking industry’s focus centers not on timely deliveries or reducing accidents, but on the health and fitness of truckers themselves.
A movement has begun among long-haul trucking companies, like the North Little Rock-based Maverick USA, to help drivers improve their overall health, which very often takes a back seat to the job.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette discussed the topic in a recent article, which delved into how easy it can be for truckers to throw concerns about their health to the wayside in favor if driving straight and for long hours. Many times, truckers will forget to feed themselves, one source told nwaonline.com.
Tiffany Senavinin, human resources director at Maverick USA, explained that there are resources for truckers to help them live a healthier lifestyle while on the road.
“We can make a difference, give them information that improves their lives with their family, their overall happiness, their productivity at work, which will increase their earning potential for their families,” Senavinin said.
Looking at the statistics, Senavinin is right, there is room for major improvement in trucker health. According to a recent study from the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, 69 percent of long-haul truckers are clinically obese, 54 percent are smokers and 88 percent have at least one risk factor for chronic disease. The study has sparked a revelation in the industry, and numerous sources are takings steps to help these individuals get their health back on track, but do the suggestions cross the line from lifestyle improvements to driver distraction?
Maverick USA has a dedicated Driver Wellness Team to help truckers develop healthy habits while on the road, like sneaking in exercise on breaks at rest stops or packing healthier foods for snacks. While it’s unlikely one could argue against educating truckers, one of the more dangerous suggestions center on improved cooking habits while on the road.
Installing cooking equipment in trucks may allow for more nutritious food to be prepared, but putting microwaves and slow cookers inside commercial rigs brings a whole slew of additional risks, like fire hazards, improper ventilation and even an uptick in eating-while-driving accidents. Distractions do not have to be cell phones, and they do not need to be obvious to pose a danger to other drivers.
The industry is attempting to correct a problem that directly affects its workers, and that is admirable, but the dangers presented by these well-intentioned solutions may be creating other problems in their wake.