Encouraging Driver Health & Wellness for Businesses

Business car driving on the highwayBusiness car driving on the highway

The most dangerous leg of your employee’s next business trip might be their 4 a.m. drive to the airport. In fact, sleeping five hours or less increases the risk of an accident by four to five times.1 Encouraging the health and wellness of employees, including providing training to help prevent driving while fatigued, is an important part of a company’s vehicle risk management program.

Studies show that 94% of accidents are caused by driver factors.2 Driver fatigue, distraction and sleep apnea can all increase the likelihood of accidents, which can lead to costly workers compensation claims, lost work time and on-the-job injuries and fatalities. Despite advances in technology, drivers remain the most important safety element of any vehicle.

With half of U.S. adults now living with one or more chronic health condition, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and stress,3 driver health and wellness is a growing concern. In particular, obesity, which affects 34%4 of the U.S. population and 53%5 of commercial drivers, is a contributing factor to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects 17-28%6 of commercial drivers and can increase a driver’s likelihood of driving while fatigued or drowsy. The nature of commercial driving can be a high-risk occupation for drivers due to the shift work and long hours, inadequate or irregular sleep, sedentary lifestyle associated with the field and limited nutrition options on the road. Commercial truck drivers may have a 12-19 year reduced life expectancy.7

Following are some tips to help encourage driver health and wellness as part of your vehicle risk management program:

Addressing Fatigue

The average adult requires 7-9 hours of daily sleep.8 Help employees understand the importance of sleep and help create conditions conducive to being well-rested.

  • Provide training about proper rest and the risks of driving while fatigued.
  • Offer sleep apnea awareness resources.
  • Provide comfortable sleeping accommodations for shift workers operating in remote areas.

Health and Wellness

Consider the importance of driver health, including medical conditions and medication side effects that may cause drowsiness.

  • Promote exercise.
  • Offer healthy food options.
  • Ensure drivers are aware of medication side effects.
  • Help employees identify medical conditions, such as diabetes and sleep apnea.

As you consider driver health and wellness in your vehicle risk management plan, take into account anyone who drives for the company. Even if driving is not one of their key responsibilities, any of your employees could be considered a driver if he or she occasionally drives for work, including running company errands by car, driving to the airport for a business trip or driving to off-site meetings.

Sources:
1 “Why Do People Have Drowsy Driving Crashes?” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/sleep.PDF
2 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2015. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/812115.pdf
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/
4 National Safety Council Injury Facts,® 2015 Edition.
5 Commercial Motor Vehicle Health and Fatigue Study – Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence Final report – February 2009.
https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/24206/Supporting%20CMV%20Driver%20Health%20Outreach%20Efforts_Final%20Report.pdf?sequence=1
6 National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0b013e318298fb0e
7 CDC Workplace Safety & Health: Truck Driver Occupational Safety & Health, 2003 Conference Report and Selective Literature Review, pp. 29-30.
8 National Sleep Foundation.
https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need