Coles signs ground-breaking agreement
Coles has committed to ensuring safe and fair conditions for workers in the ...
We already know that trucking is a dangerous job. But a three-year study published recently by Monash University, in partnership with the TWU, paints a horrific picture of just how bad things are for drivers. Over 80% are overweight or obese, one in five suffer from severe psychological distress, over 70% live with chronic pain and almost a third have multiple chronic health conditions.
For the first time, this truck driver health study has shown that the physical and mental health problems truck drivers face are explicitly connected to the many pressures and stresses of the job, and directly linked to an increase in crashes and near misses. When driver health is not a priority, it impacts the whole community.
The study has shown that risk factors because of the jobs include: “long working hours, sedentary roles, poor nutrition, social isolation, shift work, time pressure, low levels of job control, and fatigue”. It points to a need for urgent reform to address and prevent mental health and poor health among drivers.
Find the rest of the statistics in our infographic.
In an ABC 7:30 report, drivers Frank Black, Jerry Brown-Sarre and Robert Bell shared their experiences of life on the road.
Owner driver Frank Black says “It’s long hours, it’s lonesome hours behind the wheel. You get pressures, there’s the pressures of meeting deadlines.”
It’s had an impact on his personal life too, with a divorce and some failed relationships due to the nature of the job and always being away.
Robert Bell, a former driver, says he can’t say whether driving has shortened his life, but does say “I wouldn’t say it’s a healthy lifestyle by any stretch,” talking about his years of poor eating at truck stops.
It wasn’t just his physical health, either. He says he’s missed far too many birthdays and family milestones.
Jerry Brown-Sarre spent an incredible 60 years as a driver. Though he enjoyed being “king of the road,” he knows more than most people just how tough a gig it is. “I was told,” he says, “Your first 12 months, if you survive that, you might survive a few years in this industry. I survived the first 12 months, but a lot of people don’t.”
Injuries from driving led to his retirement, and his only option now is to live with it.
Anonymous drivers also contributed to the three-year truck driver health study. One said, “Just last week, I had a driver say that he nearly pulled the wheel on the truck to head straight into a tree, because it was just crap; it was too overwhelming for him. And he’s breaking down crying on the phone.”
“Myself and my ex-wife separated… because I was away so much. So that’s probably one time where I lost everything,” said another.
“My son’s been looking for my guidance and my love I suppose and it hasn’t been there because I’ve been too busy driving trucks and, you know, fighting my own battles,” said another.
It’s pretty obvious how tenacious and resilient truck drivers are. But a can-do attitude shouldn’t have to mean putting up with sub-standard truck stops, pressure from employers and pay that gets undercut because of the wealthy companies at the top of the supply chain.
It’s time for the Federal Government to take your health seriously. That means making wealthy clients at the top of the supply chain accountable for the pressures they force onto drivers. It means committing to upgrading truck stops around the country. It means making road transport safer, so that people like Robert Bell don’t have to leave the industry.
Take the pledge at bit.ly/TruckiePledge to commit to taking action and improve conditions for truckies.
Transport workers are fighting for a fairer, safer industry. Join them today and secure your future.