Our source article today discusses Driver Wellness & Fitness. The author states that taking an interest in your driver's health will end the driver shortage. Do you agree?
Most carriers cut a driver loose once he can no longer fill the health requirement of a DOT Med card. It is hypothesized that if a carrier would work with and a take an interest in their driver to help them regain certification; it would be more cost effective than recruiting, hiring and training a new driver.
Here are our comments:
Once you send the driver home, he loses his insurance so he won't be seeing a doctor.
Let's address the root cause; drivers have to cram every minute of every day into their driving schedule. They operate on hurry up and wait due to shipper and receiver delays. Truck stops are over crowded. Dispatch is always pushing for that extra mile. As long as driver are stuck on mileage pay; they too will push the day as far as they can. This leaves zero time for exercise. Many drivers eat as they drive due to time constraints. This means sandwiches or fast food. Something easy to handle as you drive. You become tired but can't rest due to the 14-hour restriction so you snack. You either smoke or eat to stay awake. OTR drivers are rarely home and when they are they are not going to waste that limited, precious time going to a doctor.
So reality check; you drive as hard and as fast as you can whenever you are not held up by a dock. You grab and go for meals. You don't have the luxury of time to park at the back of the lot and walk into a truck stop or walk around a truck stop or rest area for exercise. If it's winter; you run into grab a shower and back out with hopes of parking close so you don't catch pneumonia. Carriers play the 50 gallon fuel game so you time is eaten up sitting in fuel lines or they send to Cheep Joe's Fuel and their is no parking, the showers stink (if they even have any) and food is Greasy Bob's dried out fast food or whatever bag of snack junk is on the shelf. If you aren't driving; you are most likely trying to catch some sleep. This is how it has been for years! I know; I did this myself for years.
Now with ELDs becoming mandatory, we might actually see drivers shutting down for a full 10 hours. In that case, there may be some time for exercise and a sit down meal. This is IF (and a big IF) there is parking available at a facility that offers these things like a larger truck stop. Carriers need to consider more than fuel price when assigning truck stops. Most drivers are not going to waste the time to stop multiple times. You time your fueling with your shower, meals and hopefully your sleep break. This means carriers need to stop micro managing their drivers if they wish to encourage better sleep, exercise and food quality. Driver wellness is part of the New Entry Level Driver Training and something we encourage all our clients to present to all drivers as part of the Orientation Process.
If a carrier is truly serious about their Drivers' health; then dispatch the day with time for exercise, a decent meal or two and 8-hours of sleep. Set up your drivers in real truck stops that have facilities and verified parking. Work with shipper and receivers for true load times to minimize down time at docks. Better yet; move to drop and hook.....keep the wheels turning. Change drivers from mileage pay that encourages bad habits from dispatch and drivers alike. Move to hourly, percentage or salary. Salary is our recommendation to our clients. Drivers, like everyone else, have bills and a budget. By putting the driver on salary, you are reducing stress. The driver knows his income week over week. He is not stressed trying to make that last mile just to pay bills. Less stress; healthier driver and safer driver.
This is not just about better vending machines at orientation. This is an entire cultural change that the industry has to make. It begins with empowering the driver by freeing up time, removing unrealistic expectation (limit each day to 500 miles max) and approaching trucking as a profession with a "regular" time schedule instead of the sporadic, unpredictable, unreasonable schedules we have endured for over 50 years.
Learn more at: http://thedotdoctor.com or contact us to help your fleet -> firstname.lastname@example.org