The commercial trucking industry is the lifeblood of the American economy. Businesses of every size and type depend on the efficient transportation and delivery of goods; without trucks and the truckers who operate them, the economy would grind to a halt. Unfortunately, America’s truckers are experiencing an unprecedented amount of fatigue, leading to increased risks on the road. While semi-truck insurance is designed to help mitigate some of the risks the trucking industry faces, encouraging trucker sleeping habits serves to address one of the most common – and potentially most deadly – risks.
Analyzing Trucker Sleeping Habits & The Financial Cost
The trucking industry demands long hours and grueling schedules in its quest to move goods from manufacturing operations to end-users. As a result, the trucking workforce on America’s roads is overtired. According to articles published in major news outlets, up to 40% of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep, defined as seven or more hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. When workers are not getting the right amount of sleep, the human cost is staggering. Some of the effects of poor or lack of sleep include:
- A rise in chronic illnesses including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and musculoskeletal disorders.
- Cognitive deficiencies including memory loss, poor decision-making abilities, poor attention, and chronic grogginess. For truckers, these effects can lead to injury, property damage, or death.
- Deaths; tiredness or chronic sleep deprivation is estimated to contribute to 100,000 or more motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. every year, resulting in the deaths of 1500 people annually on average.
What about the financial costs associated with sleep deprivation? In a research article published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, lack of sleep results in nearly 275,000 workplace accidents each year, costing companies well in excess of $30 billion in injury claims alone. Insurance industry analysts suggest that companies pay, on average, about $1200 in additional medical and lost wage expenses each year due to sleep deprivation in workers.Add an estimated $63 billion in lost productivity, and it is clear that America’s business leaders need to find solutions to help their workers get the sleep they need to perform – including truckers.
Healthy Sleep Habits for Truckers
Despite rigorous schedules and long hours behind the wheel, commercial truck drivers must make attempts to get the right amount of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep hygiene begins with an organizational mindset that semi truck insurance simply is not enough to mitigate- the financial and injury risks associated with sleepy truckers; it is imperative that trucking companies establish sleep policies to better protect their workers. Tips for improving sleep hygiene in truckers includes:
- Training at the company level on the benefits and routines of good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding caffeine, heavy meals, or alcohol before bedtime, managing stress, and getting exercise during the day to maintain peak levels of efficiency.
- Implementing rest and sleep breaks for truckers.
- Establishing and adhering to maximum work hour limits for truckers. Work limits can be set for daily or weekly maximums.
- Establishing compensation for truckers who must work additional shifts or hours, serving as an incentive to take breaks away from work that can help them get the rest they need.
Accidents on the rise?
Seeing a rise in occupational accidents and injuries, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have prepared a sleep guide for truckers. Truckers can take the steps needed to get better sleep on the road by adopting several practices, including:
- Parking vehicles in quiet, safe areas if possible.
- Blocking out light by using curtains, sunshades, or eye masks.
- Using earplugs or white-noise generators to block out any sounds.
- Setting cab temperatures to a comfortable level.
- Using comfortable mattresses and bedding or upgrading if in-cab bedding is old or lacking in comfort.
- Reducing or eliminating exposure to computers, televisions, and mobile devices before bedtime.
Semi-truck coverage is an important part of the risk management landscape for the commercial trucking industry. This insurance provides coverage against a wide range of expected and unforeseen risks. Still, even with this insurance, trucker safety is the key to managing risks. By promoting healthy sleep habits and by establishing training and work hour limits for truckers, companies can better protect the workers who are the lifeblood of the transportation industry.
How Gain Encourages Positive Trucker Sleeping Habits
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