New program helps companies get, keep drivers healthy

For many people — truck drivers included — a new year often means a fresh start at losing weight, getting fit, eating better and feeling better.

Starting next month, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and Rolling Strong, a firm focused on driver wellness, will help companies and drivers attain their fitness goals with a new program aimed at and tailored to the needs of truckers.

TCA Wellness, working with Rolling Strong, will provide participants with access to thousands of health-check stations across the country, annual bio-screenings and a smartphone app with guidance about nutrition and exercise on the road, according to a statement about the program. They will also receive unlimited phone support from TCA-approved, CDL health-coaches trained to work with truck drivers.

“The studies are alarming … drivers are gaining weight, not exercising much, and developing serious problems like sleep apnea and diabetes,” said Keith Tuttle, TCA’s chairman. “This, in turn, undermines their ability to work, meaning less money to provide for their families. From the trucking industry’s standpoint, it means fewer drivers and more recruitment costs.”

The partnership between TCA and Rolling Strong will help trucking companies establish customized, in-house wellness programs that match their needs and fit their available budget. According to the statement from TCA and Rolling Strong, the program will cost TCA members less than $2 per driver, per month. Non-TCA-members and state associations can participate at a slightly higher cost.

Part of TCA Wellness is “Rebuilt,” a program aimed at drivers who fail their CDL physical or who receive a short-term DOT certification card. “Rebuilt” is a home-based routine that includes daily coaching, in-home exercise equipment, a special 28-day food supply, and, when necessary, medical referrals.

Covenant Transport, which is based in Chattanooga, Tenn., has worked with Rolling Strong’s  “Rebuilt” program. According to Covenant President Joey Hogan, “It is no exaggeration to say that Rolling Strong has added thousands of dollars to our bottom line over the last few years. In the present trucking economy, it can cost $8,000 to put a new driver behind the wheel, and many of us are turning away business and parking tractors because we just don’t have the drivers. The team at Rolling Strong has kept an impressive number of drivers on the road who would otherwise have been lost to us.”

Debbie Sparks, TCA’s vice president of development, agrees: “The truck driver shortage only gets worse when we lose experienced people because of health problems — especially when certain medical conditions can potentially be avoided with the proper intervention. TCA is really looking forward to helping our members save valuable professional truck drivers via the ‘Rebuilt’ initiative.”

“Our driver wellness tools make a real difference,” said Bob Perry, founder of Rolling Strong and executive director of TCA Wellness. “We have developed a comprehensive solution that makes a trained CDL wellness coach available at major terminals for three or four hours per week. This face-to-face interaction can greatly enhance driver health and support driver compliancy.”