In recent weeks, there has been increased press and discussions on the trucking industry and the risks of driver fatigue. Long hours on the road, often encouraged by pay per mile services, can result in truck drivers working without sufficient quantity and quality of sleep. Studies show that 13% to 31% of trucking accidents are fatigue related. Driver alertness has a significant impact on the safety and lives of every individual on the road.
To prevent fatigue and ensure drivers are alert at the wheel, drivers are required to log hours and adhere to various guidelines and regulations. Increasingly, commercial trucking companies are using electronic tracking devices to automatically track where a truck is and what it’s doing – eliminating the need for manual paper logs and also increasing the accuracy and validity of reporting. Unfortunately, knowing details on the truck is not always enough to guarantee an alert driver. Ensuring that truck drivers receive sufficient quantity and quality sleep can help keep drivers alert.
Quantity of Sleep
Similar to how electronic devices can be used to seamlessly track vehicle mileage and location, wellness technology can be used to track and promote sleep. Wearable devices and mobile sleep apps can automatically track sleep and help drivers ensure they are well rested and safe on the road. Employers can encourage drivers to use technology to track their sleep by providing wellness programs that have a sleep component. Through financial and non-financial incentives, employers can optimize participation in these programs.
Quality of Sleep
Wellness programs can also have a meaningful impact on sleep quality. According to a study, people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Through a comprehensive wellness program, employers can promote healthy behaviors that will maximize the quality of sleep a driver gets, further reducing the risk of a catastrophic and costly event to the driver, company, and civilians.
The trucking industry faces significant employee health issues. Long hours on the road in a sedentary position and unhealthy highway food options are a recipe for poor health. Consequently, truck drivers’ have an average life expectancy that is 16 years less than the general population, and employers are forced to pay significant medical expenses and manage health related productivity losses. Wellness programs can help employers reduce these costs.
Unfortunately, most wellness programs are ineffective for a trucking company. Trucking companies have a unique population and legacy wellness programs are a mismatch. Legacy solutions cannot efficiently and effectively promote wellness across geographically dispersed and mobile employee populations (truck drivers). Trucking companies must embrace technology that is just like their workforce – mobile. Mobile wellness technology allows drivers to monitor sleep, physical activity, and nutrition with a few swipes on a smartphone. The technology is cheap, easy to use, portable, and most importantly, behavior changing and engaging.
The emergence of mobile wellness technologies provides trucking employers the opportunity to solve the significant health and safety issues facing their workforce.