Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in the Center for Truck and Bus Safety have created the “Driving Healthy” resource network on a website, Facebook, and Twitter for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.
Sponsored by the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence in accordance with their mission to disseminate advanced transportation safety technologies, “Driving Healthy” provides practical and free health information and best practices for CMV drivers.
Truck driver health is an issue that affects the safety of the entire transportation system. Commercial truckers have a near-epidemic level of lifestyle-related health issues with obesity and sleep apnea at the top of the list. Drivers’ health is related to their on-the road safety. For example, overweight drivers are less likely to wear a seatbelt, which, in the event of an accident, puts them at greater risk of injury. Additionally, as many as 28 percent of truck drivers have sleep apnea, a disorder that can cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel and increases their risk of being involved in a crash.
Although weight-issues and apneas are highly manageable with lifestyle changes, CMV drivers face numerous challenges while on the road that make maintaining a healthy lifestyle difficult. Due to the nature of their jobs, drivers often have limited access to health care, healthy dining options, exercise opportunities, and typical support networks. To date, there has been sparse health and wellness information available for CMV drivers. Much of the information is either not practical for truckers or requires a fee-based membership to view. Research indicates an increasing number of truckers are interested in leading healthier lives and new CMV driver regulations make driver health an important component for continued success in their chosen career.
The Driving Healthy resource network addresses these challenges by providing truck drivers with practical and accessible tools needed to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These tools include a collection of health resources, daily health and wellness tips, and forums for discussing health and wellness issues with other drivers. By improving drivers’ health, the Driving Healthy collection of resources seeks to improve not only truck drivers’ health and safety, but also the safety of all drivers on the roadway.
Over the past 10 years, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has emerged as an international leader in the transportation research arena. The institute employs an elite team of multidisciplinary researchers, engineers, technicians, support staff, and students and serves as Virginia Tech’s largest university-level research center. The institute is dedicated to conducting applied research from various perspectives by developing and using state-of-the-art tools, techniques, and technologies to solve various transportation challenges. With facilities such as the Virginia Smart Road at its disposal, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has earned a unique standing in the transportation research field and is recognized as a "one-stop-shop" for transportation research, evaluation, analysis, and development. By providing real-world research results, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is effecting significant change in public policies in the transportation domain on the state, national, and international levels with the ultimate goal of saving lives on our highways.