I’ve just returned from the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, where record-breaking crowds jammed the Convention Center. It’s always a blast to be a part of the excitement surrounding GATS. There’s a lot of energy among the attendees as they view new products, check out the latest trucks and enjoy the free seminars and concerts.
While most of the truckers seemed interested in improving their business skills, statistics show that they neglect their overall health. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 73 percent of truckers are overweight, and more than 50 percent are obese. Obesity-related diseases like hypertension and diabetes contribute to skyrocketing healthcare costs for company drivers and expensive downtime for owner-operators. Truckers are beginning to get the message that they need to take control of their health, and GATS booths offering products and information about weight loss, smoking cessation and fitness drew huge crowds.
How can you help your most valuable assets choose a healthier lifestyle? One company, Dallas-based Greatwide Logistics Services, was at GATS to promote the launch of its new Drive and Thrive wellness program. Designed to help owner-operators adopt a healthier lifestyle through better diet, fitness and disease prevention programs, this program goes a step further by providing the owner-operator with one-on-one mentoring by a registered nurse. Once their health is assessed individually, a nurse works with them to identify and implement lifestyle changes.
Unlike traditional workplace wellness programs, Drive and Thrive nurses provide ongoing, individual coaching for the participants as they navigate diet, fitness, smoking cessation and other ways to live a healthier lifestyle. Rob Newell, vice president of owner-operator recruiting and retention at Greatwide, says the program was created after an internal survey showed that more than one-third of its owner-operators indicated an interest in such a program. The pilot program is being evaluated in two Texas locations and is offered free of charge to about 375 owner-operators. “We don’t want to just talk the talk – we want to show our truckers that we are vitally concerned about their health,” Newell says.
No program can force someone to make healthy choices, but offering ongoing support by a trained medical professional certainly seems to be a positive step in the right direction. No matter what wellness program you use or are evaluating, anything is better than ignoring the long-term health complications of your drivers’ unhealthy lifestyle choices.