How many drivers has the transportation industry lost recently? More than 150,000, according to some sources. Many left the industry due to medical conditions. If just 50% of those vacancies were caused by drivers leaving due to elevated blood pressure and sugar levels — and if companies could have helped 50% of THOSE drivers regain their health — that’s potentially 37,500 drivers who would have stayed in the transportation field.
Is there a driver shortage? Or is there a shortage of vision, of a desire to do things differently? Based on the number of otherwise-qualified drivers who fell out of the industry for health problems, the industry’s methods must change when it comes to retaining drivers.
It starts during the recruiting process. When I speak to driver recruits at wellness and driver-orientation events, all too often I see a lot of junk food being consumed. It seems like a small thing, but it sends a signal. Driver wellness education should be an enhancement to the recruiting package.
During driver orientation, take the following steps:
- Take health readings, and consult on findings.
- Feed recruits better.
- Explain that the company will be demonstrating agility-testing procedures.
- Take new students to an area for agility demonstration.
- Go through the testing process, from the minute they walk in the room until it is complete.
- Demonstrate proper form. Give tips on what to expect and how to maximize results.
Continued coaching and education after orientation can help drivers make health and wellness a long-term lifestyle change. Most drivers really appreciate it when someone takes the time to work with them. You can’t just load up on the front end; there must be follow-through to show your company cares about their health.
Here are tools motor carriers can put in place:
- Create a wellness road map. After all, drivers are familiar with getting from Point A to Point B. Their health is the same. Provide them with a road map showing how you’re going to help them improve their fitness, diet, and overall health.
- Train the trainers. Get them together. They must be your first line of defense and ambassadors.
- When doing pre-trip safety checks, remind drivers to pack healthy, high-energy foods.
- Display wellness posters throughout your facility.
- Publish driver-wellness content in your company newsletter.
Bob Perry has spent nearly the past four decades on a mission to educate professional drivers and share life-changing products and services to help them live healthier lives while on the road. Recognized throughout the transportation industry, from bus drivers to over-the-road professional drivers, Bob Perry has played an important role in creating a paradigm shift helping regulatory agencies, private and public sector entities, and consumers understand the current health challenges of the professional driver. He has participated as a wellness advocate in several roundtable discussions, large audience groups and small forums as well as going “curbside” through a national truck stop tour.
Bob’s articles have been featured in The Trucker and a number of other national transportation industry publications and is the host of a weekly wellness call produced by Rolling Strong. Bob has been a regular guest on RedEye Radio and Land-Line Radio, and is often an invited guest on Sirius radio shows. He has been featured in the New York Times, Men’s Health Magazine, Drug Store News, American Road Magazine, WSJ, NPR, ABC National Radio, as well as hundreds of daily newspapers. He has appeared on television news shows across the nation, including a featured TV segment on ABC NightLine News.