“Bus drivers top obese workers list.” As I read the USA Today on May 19, this headline grabbed my attention.
As someone with a passion for the school bus industry as well as an unyielding appreciation for health and wellness, I couldn’t help but read on.
Amy Langfield wrote the article and hit upon an honest but stinging truth.
According to Gallup, a study of 14 occupation groups ranked transportation workers as having the highest obesity rate, 36%. For every three individuals in our profession, more than one is obese.
This statistic is very unfortunate, but the good news is that the window for change and improvement is wide open. There are many reasons why this generally unhealthy state shouldn’t be and why it doesn’t have to be.
The following points will highlight the importance of improving driver health and hopefully will be the catalyst for some to improve their habits and see results.
Why it is important
School bus drivers and other transportation workers should obtain a basic level of fitness and maintain a healthy weight for three main reasons: safety, professionalism and personal wellness.
1. Safety is of the utmost importance in our line of work. We check our buses to ensure that they are in working order. We schedule and plan routes, carefully load and unload students, and take extra precautions at intersections and railroad crossings — all in the interest of safety. The condition of the driver behind the wheel is a crucial piece of this safety chain.
A driver who is fit and healthy can better manage the acute operations of the bus and possesses more endurance for long and arduous trips. A healthy bus driver is also less likely to have a medical emergency while operating the vehicle. Although not an everyday occurrence, bus evacuations and emergency situations could potentially call upon the physical capacities of a driver.