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October 2012

Healthy Drivers

Each month NPTC President and CEO Gary Petty writes a column in Fleet Owner magazine that focuses on the individuals, companies, best practices, and resources that make private trucking the force that it is in the American economy. Reaching more than 100,000 subscribers, three-quarters of whom are private fleet professionals, this column provides an excellent forum to communicate the value of the private fleet. Click here to view the archive.

Gary Petty | | Private Fleet Editor for FleetOwner Magazine
Gary Petty has more than 30 years of experience as CEO of national trade associations in the trucking industry. He has been the president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council since 2001.

Healthy Drivers

Creating a fun program that engages families offers a path to success.

October 1, 2012

Since March of 2011, David Adcock has lost 100 lbs.—without surgery, without medication, and all the while working as an over-the-road truck driver for Air Products. When he’s home, he works out in the gym. When he’s on the road for work, he takes walks around his truck, climbs into his bunk to do sit-ups, and has been known to go for a run in his work boots to maintain fitness. He has also modified his diet to include healthy foods.

Adcock is one of 850 professional drivers responsible for transporting industrial gases to Air Products’ North American customer base.

“The drivers have unusually sedentary jobs, traveling long distances with infrequent stops. This creates special challenges for our drivers to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” says Mariann Cameron, a registered nurse and coordinator for the Global Health and Wellness Group for Air Products.

“What we found is that our drivers, similar to the commercial driver population as a whole, have an elevated Body Mass Index (BMI). We tried to do more than just screen. We wanted to develop a driver wellness program that would help educate drivers, and we strove to encourage drivers to adopt an active role in improving their health. We knew it would not be a quick fix, but we knew that if we could spark an interest in behavior change, it was going to be a win for Air Products, for the drivers and for the communities that we serve.”

To kick off the program, Air Products established a cross functional Driver Wellness Team with people from medical, environmental, health and safety, and global operations departments as well as a driver representative. At its core, the program emphasizes communication with all drivers. Once a month, the Driver Wellness team sends out materials that are used at the monthly drivers’ safety meeting.

Terminals are even asked to provide healthy snack choices at these meetings. The communication includes a newsletter sent home each quarter to get the buy-in and support of the driver’s family members. Along the same lines, Air Products publishes an annual Driver Wellness Calendar written and illustrated by the children and grandchildren of the drivers. “If you want the program to succeed, you have to engage the family,” said Cameron. “You have to make it fun, and you have to provide useful resources.”

In addition to the educational efforts, various activities and competitions also encourage healthy lifestyles. For instance, several terminals recently competed in a weight loss program called “Losing the Spare Tire.” Sixty-five drivers competed and lost a total weight of 648 lbs., an average of almost 10 lbs. per driver. Another competition rewarded drivers for becoming more physically active (measured in terms of minutes per day on average of physical activity). The “Sneakin’ in the Steps” program equipped each driver with a pedometer and pitted terminals against each other to determine which location’s drivers were walking the most steps. “Going Bananas” rewarded terminals for the most amount of fruit consumed.

Drivers are getting healthier. “We are seeing an increase in numbers of drivers with a normal BMI and fewer drivers who are morbidly obese,” Cameron said. “A drop of one Body Mass Index point can save $200 in medical claims cost per driver on an annual basis.”

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