Health and hydration in the heatwave
We all recognise the importance of checking our van’s fluid levels. But what about those people behind the wheel? A survey of over 2,000 van drivers revealed some occupational hazards and potentially serious health implications of struggling to hydrate – particularly during this hot weather.
70% of respondents stated work pressures ‘severely impacted’ their ability to stay hydrated and eat healthily. Further survey feedback shone some light on the reasons for – and significance of – such a concerning topline statistic.
1 in 5 of those surveyed reported avoiding drinking to reduce their need to stop off for toilet breaks for fear of missing targets. And even more – 27% – admitted to relying solely on sugary drinks or caffeine to get them through long and hot days.
Hydration affects cognition – and therefore driver ability – so it’s not just driver health and wellbeing that’s on the line. Reluctance to take a break from the wheel meant a tenth of the survey base even claimed they ‘wee on the go’ – further diverting attention from the road.
And it’s no surprise that health and hydration issues are exacerbated during this hot weather we’re having.
Johanna Hignett, member of the British Dietetic Association and spokesperson for the NHC said, “Being well hydrated is really important, not only for our physical health, but also for mental performance. If we don’t consume enough water, we can experience fatigue, or become less alert, so it is really important that van drivers are taking on fluid throughout the day.”
The impact of poor diet has already noticeably affected the health of 63% of drivers surveyed, with one in ten citing it as a key factor in a now-serious health condition.
A shift in mindset
But the onus on looking after their health and hydration can’t be solely placed on drivers’ shoulders. 31% said they would feel awkward asking to use customers’ toilet facilities. And when achieving delivery targets might mean the difference between financial survival and unemployment, it’s clear a broader shift in mindset is needed to ensure the road to driver health and hydration is clear for all.
Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, said: “In this hot weather, we are asking the great British public to consider the health and wellbeing of delivery drivers, and to open their minds, and toilets, to these hard-working men and women to ensure they can stay well hydrated and keep Britain moving.”
As the first van manufacturer to investigate attitudes towards van driver health and hydration in this way, Mercedes-Benz Vans have teamed up with the Natural Hydration Council to try to crack the problem and enable van drivers to prioritise their physical wellbeing.
For more information about how to stay healthy and hydrated in the workplace, click here.