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Wellness: It needs to be a focus for truck drivers

Feb. 17, 2017
Truck driver wellness becoming a priority

There are plenty of reasons why truck driver wellness is rightfully becoming a more critical industry topic: go here, here and here to examine just a few of them.

And drivers themselves are getting more health-conscious, too, as concerns about the negative impact operating a commercial truck can deliver on life expectancy continue to grow.

[This story highlights a telling factoid: while the average lifespan for an American is 78 years, for long-haul commercial truck drivers, it’s 61.]

Check out the 2016 King of the Road Survey published annually by Atlas Van Lines to see what I mean: almost 75% of the Atlas-employed professional van operators (PVOs; that’s their term now for moving company drivers) polled said they exercise while on the road by moving furniture, while 26% make an effort to walk, run or doing another workout activity while at truck spots. In addition, Atlas PVOs said they are trying to make healthier eating choices while on the road, with 79% noting they drink water throughout the day and avoid “sugary drinks” such teas, sports drinks, juices and sodas.

Additionally, fresh fruit of all things provide the top choice for “favorite snacks” while on the road (44%), followed by peanuts/mixed nuts (35%), and Subway was the front runner for their favorite fast food restaurant.

[Truck stop chains, by the by, are responding to this “change in tastes,” as this story regarding a Pilot Flying J location Texas illustrated.]

This growing focus on “worker wellness” is a global phenomenon, one taking off big time in the U.S., and it isn’t restricted solely to trucking, either, for a simple reason: being “unwell” costs companies big money.

According the 2016 Global Wellness Economy Monitor compiled by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), so-called “unwell workers” now cost the world’s economy 10% to 15% in output, and for that reason spending on “workplace wellness” has grown to a $43.3 billion market.

The U.S. is far and away the overwhelming leader in such spending, noted GWI, with employers spending $14.4 billion annually or four times more than the next largest markets, Japan ($3.4 billion) and Germany ($3.1 billion).

And that spending in the U.S. is growing at a 6.7% annual rate, because in America healthcare is typically provided by employers who in turn have “powerful incentives” to slash their costs and boost productivity by investing in worker health, noted Susie Ellis, GWI’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.

That’s only going to increase as U.S. healthcare costs are forecast to increase by an average of 5.8% every year through 2025, she added.

So where the future of truck driver recruiting and retention strategies is concerned, it won’t be solely about pay, home time and operating top-of-the-line trucks anymore; it’ll also be about how to keep them fit and healthy over the course of their careers in the freight industry.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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