Driving Health Hazards

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Sukanmi was just 18 when he started understudying his father’s one- man’s truck business .At 25years,his father died after battling an ailment leaving Sukanmi as heir to the solo transport business that had suffered too many hiccups .As was expected after learning the ropes from his late father, he did pretty well until one black Saturday.

On that day, Sukanmi as is traditional, drove to the park, conducted his early morning prayers, the daily routine of checking the state of his vehicle, loaded his bus with commuters and set out on a trip he hoped will be his last before bequeathing same business to his own son. Thirty minutes after he left the park, a passenger noticed the zigzag movement of the vehicle and raised alarm .The vehicle lost control until it rammed on to a tree.

After all had alighted, someone observed that the driver had his head bowed on the steering. When attempts were made to pull him out, Sukanmi was in a pool of his own blood, lifeless. Autopsy later confirmed him dead as a result of complications arising from diabetes.

His tragedy is one of the numerous stories told a fortnight night ago during a special public rally jointly organized by the Federal Road Safety Corps under my watch and the Shell Petroleum Development Company tagged” Health in Motion Beyond the road” meant to bring health care to the door steps of drivers as part of the Corporate social responsibility .The program provided medical care on various health challenges such as malaria,typhoid,diabetes,glaucoma,cataract,macuopathy,hypertension,high cholesterol, gastric and duodenal ulcers among others. Drugs for various ailments were provided as well as free reading glasses for those deserving of them after diagnosis from optometrists, while mosquito nets were equally distributed to nursing mothers and pregnant women.

The result which I hope to focus on someday were eye openers and has compelled us with the same support of Shell to seek ways of extending this novel campaign to other States such as Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom with the hope that a culture of health awareness will be instilled in the psyche of drivers as a plank for promoting sound health for drivers.

While we await the outcome of the one day programme, I don’t know what your story or experience has been as a driver or a commuter. I also do not know for how long you have been driving whether as a private car owner or as a professional driver who is always on the road. I am at a loss at the policy or structure put in place by most organizations to promote a healthy culture for drivers although I know for certainty that this culture is a must in multinational organizations and in some big players in the transport sector. But do you know that there are health implications for being on the wheels daily especially against the back drop of the increasing traffic gridlock in most cities that today compels people to do almost everything in their cars.

Traffic in most cities such as Lagos, according to stand up comedian Basket mouth, is so bad that people will do almost anything in their cars such as buying food ingredients to make a dish, making up in the cars for ladies running red lights, reading the newspaper, eating breakfast, shaving, and talking on cell phones while driving are common and dangerous including the craze to drive and watch television on motion .Obstacles and bad drivers are just some of the many hazards we face on the high-speed battleground called the commute.

Did you really know that there are health hazards in driving? I am not talking about accidents. I am talking about the stress placed on your mind and body that occurs with road rage, eye fatigue and night blindness, and road fatigue, the multitasking, pollution among others. Because of the increasing spate of crashes involving articulated vehicles, let me first begin this focus of the health hazards faced by these group of drivers.

But even on a normal day, driving can have dangerous effects on your health. Before I do so, let me inform you that all categories of drivers suffer from the biggest health hazards of multitasking which can Kill .This hazard include distraction in particular, telephoning, disciplining children, and teen drivers interacting with their friends.Todays drivers are too confident boasting of years of experience, competence forgetting that they need to understand the limits to their concentration. Research findings demonstrate that there are limits to one’s ability to multitask. They found that even when people perform tasks that utilize different parts of the brain, doing them at the same time sucks away brainpower.

To perform two different tasks at once, you have to switch from one set of mental processes used in the first task to another set used on the second. Scientists call this “goal switching.” When you switch tasks, the rules that govern the second task have to be activated, and when your mind is occupied by the first task, switching can take almost a second — long enough to cause a serious accident. That one-second distraction contributes to the 42,000 people killed on the road each year and the $250 billion annual injury cost of commuting in the United States of America.As at the time of this piece I couldn’t reach out to data on our clime

Let me now talk on trucks and truck drivers? Do you know that car drivers cause most truck-car accidents? Because Trucks take longer to stop or turn, you must keep a wider separation. But this is not the case as we daily see smaller car drivers struggling for ownership with heavy duty trucks. We forget that despite the nuisance value we place on some truck drivers, they play vital roles in the chain of moving stuffs to us.

Truck driving is too demanding with attendant occupational stress, in addition to the struggle to keep fit and eat well.

There are some health complications that truck drivers are commonly affected by. The first is sleep deprivation which has severally featured on this page. Sleep is crucial for performing your duties as a truck driver. It’s dangerous to drive down the road when you haven’t had enough rest all in the name of making ends meet , and it can have a damaging effect on your career if you get caught Sleep deprivation can lead to complications like memory loss, weight fluctuations, sleep paralysis and high blood pressure. It can also weaken your immune system.

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Another health hazards is obesity which is a common health issue among truck drivers. It is common to see truck drivers looking like malnourished body builders because of the temptation after a hard day’s work to seek comfort with diet such as pounded yam and plenty meat topped up with bottles of alchohol.This lifestyle is dangerous but can be checked through regular exercise and balanced diet. I am not talking about strenuous exercise, it could just be taking some laps around your truck, walk around the parking lot or even doing some some jumping or lifting some tools in the cab of your truck. What you eat is also very crucial and I must confess that it is scary seeing a truck driver eat; they eat massively without recourse to what is health. It is important to eat well and stay fit, because obesity can lead to further health complications, like heart attacks.

Heart attacks are a health complication that can stem directly from obesity. Although medical experts say you do not have to be overweight to have a heart attack, but not maintaining a healthy lifestyle can certainly increase your chances of suffering from one. They also tell us that knowing the signs of a heart attack is vital to prevent one; they include chest discomfort/pressure, pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach, shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, and light headedness are all warnings of a heart attack. As a driver, you should prevent heart attacks by exercising, eating healthy, and keeping your blood pressure down.