Dehydration and Poor Eating Habits Impact Truck Drivers: The Road to Health Starts with the Driver

Not drinking enough water is like driving drunk, according to a recent study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior. The study concluded that drivers who are even mildly dehydrated commit the same number of errors as people whose blood alcohol content is over the legal driving limit. These findings highlight the unrecognized danger of driving while dehydrated and suggest that drivers should be encouraged to sufficiently hydrate.

Truck drivers are especially prone to dehydration, since some truckers may not want to stop for frequent bathroom breaks and jeopardize delivery deadlines. Drinking water is the tried and true method for staying hydrated.  Caffeine and energy drinks raise the risk of heat-related illness, dehydration, sleep prevention, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Symptoms of mild dehydration include the following: dry/sticky mouth, sleepiness or tiredness, decreased urine output, dry skin, dizziness and/or lightheadedness. The best indicator of hydration is the color of one’s urine; clear or light-colored urine means one is well hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration. It is recommended that truck drivers carry reusable water bottles in their trucks and to drink water often, even if they are not thirsty.

Long work hours, unhealthy food choices while on the road, and not enough exercise all contribute to poor health. With fast-food establishments on every corner, it is easy to opt for unhealthy alternatives. Encourage truck drivers to practice the following:

​         –   Pre-make all meals and snacks and store in a cooler for easy reheating

​         –   Include lots of fruits, vegetables, and quality protein

​         –   Label breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks and stick to the plan

​         –   This encourages steady energy levels and can keeps hunger at bay

​         –   Examples include grilled chicken sandwiches and turkey subs  

​         –   Consider providing drivers with a pedometer step counter to visualize actual steps taken and a heart rate monitor