Transportation companies have their hands full with industry-related challenges. Low driver retention, increasingly strict regulations, rising fuel costs and deteriorating infrastructure are some of the most talked about issues that those in the trucking industry are fighting to improve. However, one lesser talked about but very pressing issue is that of driver mental health. According to recent surveys, approximately one out of every five truck drivers admittedly experiences mental health problems but because of the stigma surrounding mental health in the United States, experts argue that the number of truck drivers suffering from mental health problems is undoubtedly much higher due to underreporting.
Truck driving in and of itself is a stressful job, and that definitely contributes to mental health challenges. Drivers have to meet strict delivery deadlines while also adhering to equally strict regulations regarding driving time. Additionally, truck drivers are often met with hostility on the road from drivers of passenger vehicles, they don’t typically have the healthiest eating habits, they don’t often have time to exercise and they also don’t always have someone they can talk to about their feelings and struggles.
Mental health struggles are often thought of as a personal problem, but when employees struggle with their health in any way, their employer suffers too. In an industry that is already struggling with low retention and high accident rates, driver health should be a top priority. After all, transportation companies benefit when their drivers are healthier through better driver retention rates, lower insurance and workers’ compensation premium costs and reduced liability exposure. Companies of all types have found success in these areas after implementing their own wellness programs for employees.
The Small Business Administration recommends that businesses consult their healthcare insurance provider, because many offer tools and resources to help employers develop wellness programs. The transportation insurance market is also beginning to embrace the benefits of wellness programs as well, so agents should try to position themselves as a resource for transportation companies looking to improve driver health and wellness. There is no one right way to design a wellness program, but enacting a variety of initiatives that focus on driver health is a good place to start. Your clients can begin by assessing the state of drivers’ health and their health risks. The results of the testing can help show transportation companies what their biggest areas of concern are so that they can focus on initiatives to support those concerns.
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