Taking care of truckers
It’s rather fitting that Diabetes Month, in November, follows straight after Transport Month, as the transport industry is probably one of the most vulnerable sectors. Truck drivers, in particular, have an increased risk of a number of debilitating health conditions, including diabetes.
As industry and the public prepare for the busy festive period, driver health is a crucial, but often overlooked, factor in overall road safety.
Isuzu Truck South Africa recognises the impact that a poorly managed health condition can have on truck drivers and other road users. “In the wake of any disaster involving a truck, attention immediately turns to the vehicle’s mechanical soundness and capabilities of the driver. Little, if any, focus is placed on the health status of the driver,” the manufacturer points out.
“Poor reaction times, as a result of poor health, can significantly increase the risk of collision,” Isuzu Truck notes. It puts this into perspective: “A reaction time slowed by only two seconds will take a truck, travelling at 80 km/h, 44 m closer to an obstruction on the road.”
In various studies around the world, researchers have found that truck drivers are at increased risk of being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure, and developing Type 2 diabetes.
A recent study of truck drivers, released by the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders, notes: “High blood sugar was found in 52,1 percent of the drivers, 9,1 percent of them were in diabetic stage and, when using the haemoglobin sugar test, 77,6 percent of these drivers were in this stage.
“Excessive body weight was recorded in 65,6 percent of the study population, 44,8 percent were diagnosed as being overweight and 20,8 percent were obese. High blood pressure was recorded in 16,4 percent of drivers.”
In the United States, numerous studies have found that truck drivers are at increased risk of lung, colon and larynx cancer, ischemic heart and cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, low back injuries, diabetes and non-alcohol cirrhosis. As a result, they have an increased risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents.
In Canadian studies, uncontrolled and poorly controlled diabetes among truck drivers has been found to contribute to an increased risk of road accidents.
Responding to this pervasive trend, Craig Uren, chief operations officer at Isuzu Truck South Africa, says: “The well-being of truck drivers and road users, in general, is of critical importance to us. We urge drivers, as well as companies operating in the transport sector, to take charge of this rapidly growing health and safety risk through simple measures such as routine testing.”
He continues: “Professional blood tests for glucose level monitoring must be conducted at least annually among all drivers. If drivers are found to be diabetic, the condition can be controlled by ensuring each driver has a glucometer to test and record his or her own blood glucose levels daily. They can also be guided on managing the condition by Diabetes SA.”
He concludes: “By helping manage the health of truck drivers, we can improve their personal well-being and that of their families and contribute to improved safety on South Africa’s roads.”