Stress. We all deal with it. Much has been written about stress and challenges fleet managers face on a day-to-day basis, but what about drivers?
First, what is stress? Stress is a body’s way of coping with forces on the inside or in the outside world affecting an individual. So, to combat stress, two things need to be addressed: inside, personal issues, and outside added stressors caused by the job itself.
Aside from providing time and support for drivers in need of personal help, as a fleet manager, there is a lot you can do to help reduce the stressors in the office, on the route, and in the vehicle.
Impact of Stress & Truck Driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), work truck drivers face a disproportionately high risk of fatal crash-related injuries and serious health disorders.
The CDC noted that, in 2015, about 2.6 million workers in the U.S. drive trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds. After dropping to 35-year lows in 2009, the number of crash fatalities of truck drivers or their passengers increased between 2009 and 2012.
Overall, 317,000 motor vehicle crashes involving large trucks were reported to police in 2012, according to the CDC.
Excessive stress in the workplace can have undesirable consequences on mental and physical health. Truck drivers deal with pressure from traffic, delivery timing (“Am I going to be late?”), bad weather, rude people on the road or customers, long and irregular hours, lack of sleep, and tight areas to maneuver within. Add the responsibility for a piece of equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars, and you have a hotbed for stress.
Add the health concerns and added precautions required by the COVID-19 pandemic to already high-stress levels and typically poor driver health, and we have today’s stressed-out truck driver.
Obviously, we can see the impact on drivers, but how can this impact the company? According to a study by the American Society of Safety Engineers, if employees experience an inordinate amount of stress, the stress factor will greatly influence a company’s economics.
This can include but is not limited to increased Workers’ Compensation claims, absenteeism, poor customer service, and decreased driver retention rates. All these factors can also lead to job “burnout” as well.
Top Stress Fighting Tips
Here are a few stress relief tips to share with your work truck drivers:
- Do whatever possible to improve route and trip planning. When drivers worry about whether they will make it to their next stop on time, they may begin to rush, skip safety checks, or drive irresponsibly to get to the next stop. Better route and trip planning can help take this stress off the driver.
- Keep the truck well maintained. Knowing a truck will safely get them from point A to point B and back again helps reduce the stress on your driver. Constant worry about equipment failure, roadside breakdowns, or potential accidents only adds to a drivers already stressful day.
- Get out and exercise! Recommend to your truck drivers that they take a quick walk on breaks. A few laps around the truck (while doing safety checks) gets the blood pumping and heart working.
- Recommend healthier eating habits. While this can be difficult for truck drivers on the road, it’s not impossible. Some recommendations include keeping a small cooler in the vehicle with ice packs and filling it with bottled water and fruit for snacks.
- Get plenty of rest! A good night’s sleep and proper use of break time to recharge a driver’s personal batteries is essential.
- Overall, try to stay positive. Today might not be the best day ever, but tomorrow is a new day.
Are you currently working to reduce driver stress? What actions are you taking? Let me know!
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