Many of us drive on major highways daily and think nothing of the semi’s sharing the road with us. Yet accidents do occur and at an alarming rate. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, (most current numbers), 3921 people were killed and 104,900 were injured in motor vehicle collisions involving large trucks (1). Up to 31 percent are thought to have fatigue as a factor leading to the collision. Clearly truck driver fatigue has led to serious consequences, both for the driver themselves as well as those of us who share the road.
Instead of focusing on the number of hours of sleep we need to be thinking about the quality of sleep. Diver fatigue should be part of a larger discussion of driver health issues. Now I like a Krispy Kreme (or a dozen) as well as anybody and nothing says welcome home like a double meat Whopper. Not picking on anybody, just part of being on the road. American Journal of Industrial Medicine did a study of 1,600 drivers and found commercial truck drivers were more than twice as likely to have diabetes (14.4 percent vs. 6.8 percent nationally), more than twice as likely to smoke (50.7 percent vs18.9) and most troubling was 68.9 percent were considered obese. Truck drivers were at a higher risk of musculoskeletal problems, like back pain, as well as psychiatric illness. In terms of overall healthcare 18.3 percent delayed or didn’t seek care and 80.2 percent didn’t receive a flu shot.(2)
What can be done? Many trucking companies have embarked on health and wellness campaigns. Schneider National offers health risk assessments for its drivers, like testing for sleep apnea. JB Hunt offers a complete wellness program with individual medical exams and health coaching. Travel Centers are getting into the program by providing healthier eating choices, information kiosks and discussions with health providers like Walgreen’s and CVS to co-locate inside the facilities.
However there is still a disconnect, given that 85 percent of the drivers are away from home more than 17 days a month, the solution has to include a mobile element. There are multiple mobile apps that coach and council you to wellness. GPS based apps that track your movement and give you “rewards” for achievement of your goals. Smart Bands, track movement as well as sleep, to help monitor your health patterns. There is simply no excuse, with the technology as close as your ear, to not take advantage of these wellness options and get ahead of this health epidemic.
The Morgan Company, along with Well Via, offer wellness solutions as well as Tele-Medicine benefits that will get you and those around you, home, safe and sound. Just in time to catch the “Red Light” on,(if you have to ask you don’t need to know) .
(1)NHTSA, (2) HP Healthy Living