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Improving driver health one click at a time

Aug. 12, 2013

WINDSOR, CT. Part of any insurance company’s job is to minimize risk. That includes ensuring driver health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy for a commercial truck driver is 61 and high blood pressure is one of the primary health risks facing commercial drivers. Further, few commercial drivers eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

This is one reason why Travelers Insurance, Northland Insurance and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) have teamed up to offer Drivinghealthy.org, a website and related social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter dedicated to improving the health of commercial truck drivers. The site received initial support from the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence.

“There are a lot of statistics out there that connect driver wellness and driver safety,” Matt Bordonaro, spokesman with Travelers’ Claims and Risk Control group, told Fleet Owner.

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Traveler’s and VTTI experts were on hand Friday at Travelers’ Claim University in Windsor, CT, to discuss driver wellness as well as other commercial insurance needs with trucking customers and agents in a series of workshops as part of the Travelers/Northland Truck Safety & Education Symposium.

The Drivinghealthy.org website includes information crucial to commercial drivers such as what they need to know to maintain their medical card, what a medical screening is and is not, and links to finding a certified examiner through the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.

The site also includes resources for drivers dealing with smoking cessation issues, obstructive sleep apnea, mental health, drinking problems and other conditions. Healthy eating is the focus of yet another section with tips on eating out, how to pack food for road trips and information on serving sizes.

Sleep apnea is a concern for many drivers who maintain irregular sleep schedules. The site addresses the symptoms, tips for managing and resources for addressing sleep apnea.

“There are things in commercial safety that are not out there that can help drivers,” said Chris Hayes, director of transportation safety, Travelers Risk Control, “but at some point, it comes down to healthy drivers.”

VTTI is currently conducting research in this area, led by Dr. Jeff Hickman, group leader, behavioral analysis and applications, Center for Truck and Bus Safety. The research, Worksite Health & Wellness Case Study, seeks to draw conclusions about health and wellness programs. The effort will focus on Schneider National, which launched a driver wellness initiative with Atlas Ergonomics in 2006.

Through phone interviews to garner opinions of those involved in the program, researchers hope to develop a set of recommendations for implementing and maintaining a carrier-implemented health and wellness program for drivers.

The DrivingHealthy.org website is associated with a Twitter feed and Facebook page so drivers on the road can easily get updates and links to resources. Both resources provide daily health and wellness tips.

About the Author

Brian Straight | Managing Editor

Brian joined Fleet Owner in May 2008 after spending nearly 14 years as sports editor and then managing editor of several daily newspapers.  He and his staff  won more than two dozen major writing and editing awards. Responsible for editing, editorial production functions and deadlines.

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