5 Health Tips for HGV Drivers
There are thousands of HGV drivers driving all around the UK every year, and with 98% of transport recruitment agencies currently reporting a shortage of drivers, it’s important to ensure that you are keeping healthy on the job. We will give you 5 health tips for HGV drivers that are easy to action and certain to keep you healthy whilst on the road.
The current average age of UK HGV drivers is 53, with 13% of them being over 60. This means that many drivers will be retiring within the next 5 to 10 years. So, with an ageing workforce and with only 2% of employed drivers under the age of 25, it’s important that current HGV drivers are staying as healthy as possible. This leads us to our first point…
Eating healthy on the go
Driving is a sedentary job and this makes your food intake important, as eating unhealthy foods will add to the inactivity. Avoid drive-thrus, junk food and fast food, instead, focus on ways that you can eat healthily whilst driving. Most large supermarkets will have sufficient parking for your HGV and many petrol stations now have ample food selection due to partnerships with food shops. Here you will be able to find a wide variety of healthy foods and snacks. For example:
- Pre-made salads or deli station salad boxes, which are common in a lot of supermarkets (you can stay healthy, but still create your own with items that you will enjoy)
- Pre-washed and cut vegetables
- Pre-washed and cut fruit / dried fruit / fruit pots
- Hummus and vegetables (like carrots or cucumbers)
- Mixed nuts
Don’t forget that raw fruit and vegetables contain a lot of great vitamins and minerals for overall health, they also help digestion, too. There are a lot of options for food while on the road, but making healthier choices when it comes to food is one of our most important health tips for HGV drivers. A great way to do this is to track your calorie intake, you can sign up to an app like MyFitnessPal, there are both free and paid options, but the free option will allow you to track your calorie, vitamin and macronutrient intake, and you will also be able to set yourself a calorie limit based on whether you want to maintain or lose weight. Find out more about it here.
Water is essential, dehydration can cause a multitude of issues for people like loss of alertness and tiredness. So, for a driver staying hydrated is important. HGV drivers should consume around 2 litres of water each day to stay hydrated. Instead of buying expensive bottles of water to carry around in your truck, buy a large refillable water container (like this one sold by Myprotein) and use it to sip water throughout the day. Your body will only tell you it’s thirsty when it’s already dehydrated, so ensure you stay alert by drinking plenty at regular intervals.
We would also suggest avoiding fizzy drinks and coffee where possible. Two cups of coffee per day is acceptable for drivers to take in, however, any more may have an adverse impact on your sleep schedule and fizzy drinks dehydrate the body and are bad for your teeth; making that another thing to worry about.
Getting plenty of rest
It’s important you make the most of your rest periods and breaks. Brake UK says that 1 in 6 deaths or serious injury on the roads are due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. If you’re working long hours that require you to concentrate a lot, it’s key to get enough sleep as a lack of sleep is the main cause of fatigue and drowsiness. The majority of healthy adults will need 7 – 9 hours sleep each night in order to function at their best, park your truck in a safe and quiet place (you can find out more about the best UK truck stops for HGV drivers here) and set yourself regular settling and rising times to keep a good sleeping pattern. You should also make time where you canto pull over, get out of the truck and stretch your legs or do some simple exercises. This will help to get your blood flow circulating properly and it will also contribute to keeping you alert.
The EU Driver’s Hours Law is clear that drivers should not be driving for more than 9 hours per day (or 10 hours if it is extended twice a week) and that drivers must take at least 11 hours of rest each day (this can also be reduced to 9 hours, 3 times between any 2 weekly rest periods). For every 4 and a half hours of driving a 45 minute rest period must also be taken; this would be an ideal time to get out of the truck and move around. Keep in mind that all driving and rest breaks must be recorded on your tachograph and if you have any more questions about the use of your SE5000 Digital Tachograph, you can review the user manual on our support page or you can take a look at our FAQ page.
Additionally to stretching your legs, one of our essential health tips for HGV drivers would be that you need to regularly stay active and exercise. As we said, driving is a sedentary job and, according to a study conducted in 2017 and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), 84% of UK drivers have an issue with being overweight or obese. To avoid this, the NHS has stated that all adults should exercise for 150 minutes per week (so around half an hour each day, 5 days a week), and there are a few ways to fit this into your packed driving schedule:
- Walking and jogging: whether it’s just a couple of short 15-minute walks or jogs during your rest period, or you make a conscious effort to factor in a workout, this is a simple but great way to get in some exercise. You can also get a gadget like a Fitbit or a pedometer to track your daily steps and exercise progress – which is a great motivator.
- Cycling: you could also get a foldaway bicycle to take along with you when you are driving in order to get in some cycling time – some rest stops may even have some tracks that you would be able to follow to exercise.
- Weights: providing they are kept safely and away from where you are driving, these are a great way to ensure you are getting some exercise in on the road. Couple it with some walking or cycling and you are getting a good mix of activity.
Some truck stops have gyms, you can find out more about these amazing UK truckstops on our webpage here, and there are also countless workout routines on websites like YouTube, find something that works for you and stick to it to keep your fitness levels up.
Though physical health is essential, keeping healthy mentally is just as important. Driving can be a taxing, and sometimes even monotonous, job and it’s vital to keep your mind active as you drive. Think of ways to keep your mind alert and stimulated during your driving hours, there is an endless selection that you can access from a smartphone. Audiobooks, podcasts and music are great for keeping you stimulated mentally and there are a lot of ways to access this content through your mobile phone before you begin driving. You may also be able to make use of a handsfree device, like these car kits from Parrot. It is illegal to use a handheld device when driving, so ensure any use of one takes place before your journey starts or that you employ the use of a handsfree device. Apps like Spotify have a great selection of music and podcasts and Audible provides a fantastic selection of audiobooks. From classics like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy to new releases like Michael Carrick’s autobiography.
It’s also important to de-stress and relax and these are great ways to do so; alongside ensuring you still make time for friends and family. Driving, especially for long distances, can be lonely and can leave you feeling isolated from your family. Make time to call or Skype with them whilst you are on the road and even visit some landmarks to show them when you get back. It can be easy to let your family life slide if you are driving a lot, but it is well worth the time to invest in keeping that unit strong when you are away.
These health tips for HGV drivers are a great way to stay on top of your physical and mental health whilst you are travelling away from home. Driving can be a long, solitary and challenging job, but there are always ways to stay on top of your fitness and wellbeing. Next time you’re on the road, try some of these tips. If you do, you can let us know on Twitter by tagging us at @stoneridge_uk.
For more hints and tips on HGV driving, you can head to this section of our website, and if you would like some more information on our SE5000 Exakt Duo Digital Tachograph, you can head onto the Stoneridge Electronics website, alternatively, you can contact us via phone or email.