Driving fitness, health profile and issues affecting heavy vehicle drivers: Opportunities for accident prevention

Lynn B. Meuleners, Andy H. Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

Abstract

This chapter documents the health profile of heavy vehicle drivers and identifies pertinent workplace issues so that recommendations can be made to minimize their risk of occupational injury. A three-phase survey was conducted in Perth, the capital of the State of Western Australia. In the first phase, a total of 302 heavy vehicle drivers were recruited from two truck stops and interviewed using a structured questionnaire. The broad areas assessed included general health, presence of any chronic condition and other risk factors such as fatigue, tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption. A two-round Delphi study involving 50 drivers was then conducted in the second phase to determine the issues of concern in the workplace from their own perspective. In the third phase, an audit of truck companies was performed to investigate the status of occupational health and safety programs currently in place. The results found that the majority of drivers were either overweight or obese, and were either sedentary or engaged in low levels of physical activity. About half the drivers were smokers, 84% reported drinking alcohol, 58% suffered from tiredness while driving and 56% slept on average less than the desired six hours per day. Moreover, 51% did not eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. The proportion of drivers having a chronic illness was also high (53%), with 19% experiencing a work related injury in the last 12 months that required treatment at a hospital or a clinic. The Delphi study revealed that the quality of food and facilities at roadhouses were major concerns to long distance drivers, while cost involved was often cited as the barrier to improvement. Of the 63 truck companies participating in the audit, most provided training, especially fatigue management training, with some companies even offering them on an on-going basis. Although companies appeared to be proactive in terms of supplying protective equipment, regular medical check-ups were seldom provided. The health profile of heavy vehicle drivers appears to be worse than the general population with risks such as smoking, obesity and fatigue being of particular concern. Their driving fitness should be regularly assessed by health professionals. Intervention strategies involving both heavy vehicle drivers and their employers must be developed to improve the health status of these drivers, which have important consequences on the truck industry, as well as the safety of these professional drivers and other road users.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransportation Accident Analysis and Prevention
PublisherNova Science Publishers Inc
Pages123-138
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781604562880
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008

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Meuleners, L. B., & Lee, A. H. (2008). Driving fitness, health profile and issues affecting heavy vehicle drivers: Opportunities for accident prevention. In Transportation Accident Analysis and Prevention (pp. 123-138). Nova Science Publishers Inc.