Smart steps

Every morning, thousands of route delivery drivers get into their vehicles and begin the business of moving goods and services that last couple of miles to your home or office door. A typical driver for an Internet-based retail grocery service or an office supply company, for example, probably makes 30 to 40 stops a day, exiting and entering the vehicle each time.That might not seem like a lot, until

Every morning, thousands of route delivery drivers get into their vehicles and begin the business of moving goods and services that last couple of miles to your home or office door. A typical driver for an Internet-based retail grocery service or an office supply company, for example, probably makes 30 to 40 stops a day, exiting and entering the vehicle each time.

That might not seem like a lot, until you realize that the driver is exiting and entering the vehicle more than 21,000 times a year. That's 21,000 opportunities to strain a back, bump a head, skin a knee, pull a muscle, fall off the truck or step into traffic at the wrong moment. No doubt fatigue also plays a role by making drivers more prone to the kind of missteps that can lead to an injury.

Injuries can mean lost wages and medical payments for the driver, as well as lost manpower, higher insurance rates and more workman's comp claims for the company.

At Workhorse, we're concerned about driver safety. And while that means continually striving to build a safer product, it also means helping customers understand the importance of selecting the safest and most ergonomically appropriate vehicle for the job.

We've found that route-delivery drivers experience less back strain and fewer fatigue problems when they work in an upright position. Step vans enable them to do this because the street-side and curb doors are full height, as well as the interior cargo access and rear doors. In addition, the position of the dash, seat and steering wheel make it possible to drive in an upright position. This is something you won't find in a tilt truck or cutaway van,where the cabs are more like consumer vehicles. And for service people like plumbers and electricians, who need to work standing up inside the vehicle, the interior box height of a step van is far superior to that of a cargo van.

Traffic is always a safety risk for route drivers, especially if they can only access their vehicle from the street side. With step vans, however, there are no obstructions in the cab area and drivers can easily choose to leave the vehicle through the passenger door to avoid the dangers of traffic.

Not only is route-delivery work fatiguing, but as we mentioned earlier, it's also fraught with skinned knees, strained backs, pulled muscles and injuries from falls. Many of these injuries happen because vehicle design often means that drivers have to do an inordinate amount of lifting, bending, crouching and climbing.

Step vans can help alleviate some of this because cargo bed height is almost a full foot lower than that found in tilt cabs or cutaways. Since there's a shorter distance to climb and the ramp height is lower, falls are less dangerous - which means fewer injuries for drivers.

While cubes, cutaways and tilts are all adaptations of the basic truck cab and frame, step vans have been designed specifically as route-delivery vehicles. In short, they're the right vehicles for the job. In fact, they're as viable today for route-delivery applications as they were 30 years ago.

And a big part of what makes step vans so appropriate for this market niche is their contribution to driver safety. With many route-delivery drivers making upwards of 70 drop-offs and pickups in a day, it's important that package-delivery companies do everything possible to minimize the risk of injury.

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