Daily Archives: November 18, 2018

A New Study Looks At Truck Driver Health And Wellness

Just north of the border, the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Health has just started a study specifically looking at the health, safety and wellness of long-haul truck drivers. This study is different from others in that it looks at several factors related to a truck driver’s behavior. The spectrum of data points it encompasses includes stress, fatigue, environmental risks, and road hazards. Out of the many studies completed on this topic, this takes a holistic look at truck driver safety and health.

The study was carried out through the creation of two online surveys. One survey was geared towards truck drivers and the second towards trucking companies. The questions in the surveys were designed to learn more about truck drivers’ behaviors and what kind of initiatives trucking companies are implementing to support a healthier lifestyle for truck drivers.

The university will be running the surveys through January of 2019. They are hoping to generate approximately 1,000 responses from both truck drivers and fleets by the time the study completed. Currently, the university is going through the process of aggregating the data and will begin analysis once it has been collected.

Formerly, the university completed a pilot study to determine the efficacy of a full study. The results from their pilot study revealed that health issues ranging from unhealthy eating and drinking to stress and other physiological problems are having a negative impact on truck driver health and wellness. The pilot study also uncovered that trucking companies can and should be doing more to provide a supportive environment for their truck drivers. Whether it be through flexible working hours, better health and wellness policies, or specific programs targeting employee health, the options are out there.

The data gathered through the study, once analyzed, will be used to set up a Best Practices manual or series of guidelines that can be shared with employers and managers within trucking companies. The university took up the study for obvious reasons related to long-haul trucker health.

Professional over-the-road truckers are at risk for elevated illnesses simply due to the nature of their job. Just as an office worker must spend many, many hours a day in a single position, not moving or exercising, a truck driver must operate in similar circumstances. The question surrounding the debate now is: What can be done to change this paradigm?

As technological solutions emerge, trucking companies are better poised to facilitate programs that specifically address the health and wellness of their employees and operators. While many within the industry point to ELD compliance as a major pain point, the health and safety of our nation’s truck drivers should take center stage as we move into the future. Certainly, the growth of innovation in the industry will help.

Truck drivers may be at greater risk for suffering health issues, but as the trucking industry expands and fleets reap the benefits of a heady trucking environment, there is no reason why truck driver health and safety should not take center stage. By delving into the data provided by studies like the one being done by the University of Saskatchewan, trucking companies will be better positioned to do just that. Will we see measurable improvements in trucker health over time? Hopefully so.

Identifying Risk And Providing Timely Coaching

We are going to give you an example and then follow it up with recommendations on how you would handle such a situation, as an enterprising fleet manager. We are going to call this case study: When Good Drivers Are At Risk.

Take a good truck driver who is flagged as at risk. Perhaps the fleet manager thinks highly of this individual, mainly because he has a long safe driving record. Yet, as time went on, perhaps this truck driver’s score deteriorated to a level where he was suddenly identified as someone who may need proactive intervention. What if the fleet manager had a way to prevent the accident?

Fleets must be well aware of predictive factors that could shine a light on potentially unsafe behavior or life factors. What if the fleet manager had noticed that the truck driver had been leaving his house later every night? Perhaps the truck driver even had speeding events. Without being able to identify these factors, the fleet will be at a disadvantage when it comes to preventing an accident before it even happens.

Now imagine that the truck driver has a history of driving aggressively. After speaking to him or her, the manager finds out that the driver’s home was damaged in a storm and they are trying to rush home to fix the damage before it gets worse. So, he left the house later and drove faster. Speaking to the truck driver is important, but an action plan must be put in place to assist the employee in eliminating the stress of the situation and getting back to a level where an unsafe pattern can be modified. This is where coaching comes in.

Planning a Coaching Intervention

Being able to predict a potential crash based on bad behavior means nothing if no action is taken to handle the matter. Intervention, education, and effective coaching must be implemented to reverse the potential risk. Fleet managers must be trained on proper intervention techniques that allow for frank conversations when they uncover data that denotes an elevated crash risk.

Common coaching between a fleet manager and a truck driver should involve conversations about critical events or remedial training. Even more, these conversations need to be objective and relational so that truck drivers understand they are merely taking an active interest in safe operation of the fleet’s equipment. This is the only way the fleet manager will understand the stresses the truck driver is dealing with and be able to speak to them in a compassionate and understanding manner.

When a truck driver is dealing with issues related to health, family, finances, pay, hours, or work conditions, they may be at an increased risk for an accident. Fleet managers must be having proactive and positive conversations to uncover any underlying issues that may be contributing to said risk. They must be able to find a way to help lest a severe accident occur as a result of their inaction.

Consider that a 2017 study in Transportation Journal shows that truck driver stress extends beyond health, family, finances, or work conditions. Other factors stressing truck drivers include feelings of isolation or a lack of respect from managers and/or colleagues. These are factors that fleet managers should be able to address.

Don’t let at-risk behaviors or other factors lead to a potential accident. Isolate the cause through a productive conversation and work with your truck drivers and others within your organization to provide relief and ensure compliance and safe operation.