National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is traditionally a time to give thanks to the men and women who keep the country moving. However, one freight logistics company is using this time to take stock of how those folks are doing with regard to their overall health.
On Sept. 8, Truckstop released the findings of a recent survey of more than 500 long-haul truck drivers that focused on key areas of overall health. According to the company, the purpose of the survey was “to gain an understanding of the challenges they face on the road to eat healthy and stay active.”
The survey focused on three areas: nutrition, physical health and mental health. Key findings from the survey included:
- Truck drivers are challenged to find healthy eating options while on the road mainly due to: parking (i.e. most healthier food options don’t have truck access), 43%; lack of access to healthy eating options, 41%; lack of time, 40%; lack of ability to cook in their truck (e.g., don’t have cooking equipment), 36%; and cost (i.e. healthier food options are expensive), 34%.
- Over a third (36%) of those surveyed said their primary method for eating on the road is ordering fast food, while eating at non-traditional food places like gas stations and truck stops also is fairly popular (30%).
- Fifty-nine percent of truck drivers surveyed believe they eat healthily on the road, with over a third (37%)indicating they cook their own meals on a fairly regular basis.
- Finding time to exercise on the road is much more difficult than at home due to: Fatigue from driving all day, 52%; a lack of time, 48%; a lack of access to exercise options, 48%; and difficulty finding a place to park truck that provides exercise options, 42%.
- Naturally, many long-haul drivers spend most of the day inactive as they stop only once (11%) or twice (49%) a day to exercise/stretch; only 36% stop three or more times a day.
- Although 90% of drivers surveyed get at least one exercise session per week, most (69%) are exercising only one to two times per week.
- The most common workout locations for those who do exercise are anywhere outside (44%) but preferably at a park or hiking trail (40%), although 40% will exercise in their truck if they have to.
- In terms of job satisfaction, 84% of truck drivers surveyed are satisfied with their job currently, which increases to 93% for those with a low overall stress level in their job.
- Eighty-eight percent of respondents have a high (26%) or moderate (62%) overall stress level in their job, with just 12% rating it as low.
“As we mark National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, it’s imperative we shed light on the real challenges drivers face every day,” Kendra Tucker, Truckstops’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “This research underscores our commitment to understanding their unique struggles and advocating for truck drivers’ overall well-being. A big thank-you for all that you do, and know that your efforts are truly appreciated.”
According the company’s website, Truckstop’s mission is to “equip our customers with a toolbox of practical solutions to help them succeed,” through offering “software solutions that support the entire freight-moving lifecycle.”
Mental health tips for truckers
Land Line Now recently spoke with therapist Buck Black about struggles drivers face when it comes to mental health. He said the isolation of the job is one contributing factor.
“If you think about just the fact that the job typically is that you’re bouncing around in the truck all day long, 24 hours a day,” Black told Land Line. “You’re in that truck for days on end, if not weeks on end, so loneliness is a big one.”
He added that loneliness can have a “domino effect,” with the negativity that comes with it leading to other problems such as depression, anxiety and issues in personal relationships.
“The reality of it is it’s all connected… and then before you know it, life is really tough,” he said. “Maybe it’s a lot of misery, or maybe it’s to the point that you can no longer be on the road just because of everything that’s going on and how you’re feeling.”
To help combat those mental health issues, Black suggests drivers pay close attention to their physical health, as well. Getting adequate rest, eating healthily and finding time for exercise can go a long way toward improving overall health.
In addition, Black noted that being open and honest about emotions is critical for making strides with mental health.
“A big part is accepting the feelings, because a lot of drivers will not want to accept the fact that ‘I am lonely,’” he said. “Especially if it’s a guy that is really macho. ‘Well, I can’t be lonely. That’s not very macho.’ Well, we all have those feelings. So acceptance of the feelings, that’s definitely a big part of it.” LL