Are Motor Carriers Responsible for their Drivers’ Health?

Who carries the responsibility for a professional driver’s health? The driver or the motor carrier? This is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for some time now. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that long-haul truck drivers may develop health problems because of their work environment. If a driver has a medical condition that affects their ability to drive, it could cost them their CDL — and their livelihood.

One survey found that long-haul truck drivers are more likely to smoke and be overweight than people in other professions. In addition, truckers are less likely to be physically active compared to other workers in the U.S.

A driver’s motor carrier is responsible for ensuring the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) medical examiner is informed of the minimum medical requirements and the characteristics of the work to be performed. The motor carrier is also responsible for ensuring that only medically qualified drivers operate its commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.
I certainly agree that we each need to manage our well-being. However, shouldn’t the company share some responsibility when you have a job with a working environment that can directly affect your health?

Shouldn’t companies support their employees with the necessary tools to be preventive and proactive regarding their health? Businesses do this when it comes to their equipment, with measures like oil changes, tire tracking devices, and testing the engine’s oil for potential breakdown.

But what about testing your body, your “engine,” for the potential breakdown?

I have two thoughts on this on this subject.

First: I’ve always felt that motor carriers need to educate and support drivers in managing their well-being through educational materials, health screenings, and the ability to talk confidently with a CDL health coach for guidance, accountability, and motivation. Having a reward program is key. With the high cost of recruiting new drivers, why not reward the ones you have for passing their CDL re-certs? The message is, “Why not save the drivers you know today before hiring the next unknown drivers of tomorrow?”

Second: You, as a driver, must be willing to engage in any wellness program offered and utilize the support your carrier is willing to provide. Show them that you appreciate it by interacting and making your best effort to stay healthy and pass your re-cert exams.

Ultimately, we must each take responsibility for our health but having support from the workplace will enhance the quality of a driver’s life.