By driving products from manufacturing and production centers to end users, America’s commercial truck industry stands as the driving force for the economy. Businesses of every configuration and size depend on trucking to transport goods. The commercial transportation sector faces numerous operational risks, however, and sleep deprivation is one of the leading factors that puts trucking and its employees in jeopardy. Semi truck fleet insurance protects the assets and business continuity of trucking operations, but it is only part of a broader risk management strategy. To better protect truckers, their vehicles, and their cargo, addressing and improving trucker’s sleep routines is the key to continued success and safety.
Truckers Are Not Getting Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep across industries has resulted in staggering costs. A study published in 2012 in the Archives of General Psychiatry pinpointed those expenses; lack of sleep results in an estimated 275,000 workplace accidents on average each year, and costs companies in excess of $30 billion in injury claims. Another annual $63 billion of lost productivity is experienced across industries.
Truckers are used to long hours and tight delivery schedules, often resulting in a significant lack of sleep. Truckers who are deprived of quality sleep – seven or more hours of uninterrupted sleep each night – are at risk of illness and injury. In fact, sleep deprivation is estimated to contribute to more than 100,000 motor vehicle crashes and 1500 or more deaths annually. Semi truck fleet insurance covers many of the losses associated with crashes and workplace injuries, but excessive claims can drive insurance costs up. America’s trucking fleet managers have both financial and safety incentives in helping their workers find solutions to sleep deprivation.
Sleep Routines: Tips for Truckers and Trucking Operations
Long hours behind the wheel and tough scheduling represent significant hurdles that the trucking industry must overcome. It is imperative that truckers get sufficient sleep in order to ward off injury, property damage, and the loss of life.
Establishing healthy sleep routines begins at the top of the trucking organization; developing sleep routines and policies protects workers and the financial assets they are responsible for. Improving sleep hygiene includes:
- Encouraging drivers to take rest breaks. Rest and sleep breaks may even be mandated by law; implementing mandatory breaks can help protect workers.
- Training in proper sleep habits and practices.
- Establishing maximum work hour limits for drivers. These work limits can be configured for daily, weekly, or monthly intervals.
- Creating incentive programs for truckers who must work beyond maximum limits due to scheduling or mission-critical deliveries. These incentives can include time off from work as well as financial bonuses.
- Providing guidance to truckers to avoid the use of alcohol or stimulants before bedtime, managing stress, and getting enough exercise to ward off sleepiness and the illnesses or disorders associated with sleep deprivation.
- Providing truckers with sleep-enhancing equipment like sunshades, earplugs, or eye masks to improve the quality of sleep.
Truckers can also take active roles in improving their daily sleep habits. To help truckers get the unbroken sleep they need to remain safe, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), have developed a sleep guide. Tips for truckers include:
- Utilizing quiet, safe parking areas when available.
- Minimizing the use of electronics before bedtime.
- Setting cab and sleeper compartment temperatures to comfortable levels during sleep.
- Upgrading mattresses and bedding to improve comfort.
While semi truck fleet insurance protects companies and their vehicles, these companies must do more to protect their valuable employees. Faced with the financial expenses associated with sleep deprivation, not to mention the staggering human toll, trucking companies can help turn the tide these occupational hazards. Sleep hygiene for truckers must be a component of a comprehensive risk management plan. By establishing good sleep routines, trucking companies can continue to operate while preserving the health and productivity of their drivers.
About Gain Insurance Agency
Gain Insurance Agency protects trucking businesses against liabilities and claims in the industry. We combine products provided by respected insurance providers with our expertise and custom packages to meet customers’ individual needs. Our goal is to give you the coverage that you need at the lowest possible price. To learn more about our products and services, contact us today at (877) 424-3344.