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OTR Payments and Payroll Cards Keeping You Financially Fit

December 19, 2017
by EFS

OTR payments and payroll cards aid in your fleet’s financial fitness, but what about physical health?

As we approach the end of the year, many of us are considering the numbers. We are reconciling expenses and managing taxes so that we can end the year as fiscally fit as possible. The trucking industry is no different and it has come a long way in the systems and tools that they have employed to maximize efficiencies and mitigate error. Fleet cards, fuel cards and payroll cards have become a critical aspect of the way fleets are managing money. Trucking companies across the nation have developed card systems to the benefit of the accounting department, as well as the fleet managers and especially the drivers. Some of the benefits that these cards provide can help in tracking and managing expenses as well as offering savings in ways never before possible. During a season where schedules are hectic and the roads are hazardous, drivers and fleets are often able to rely on tools like the Mastercard Payroll Card to alleviate any worry for cash on hand. Some of the benefits include:

  • Universal acceptance via the Mastercard Network
  • ATM cash access via the All Points (surcharge FREE), Cirrus, and STAR networks
  • Immediate or scheduled transfers to external bank accounts
  • Pay monthly bills such as utilities, cell phone, internet provider, and more from the convenience of the card
  • Issue checks using the funds on the card
  • 24/7 online and mobile access to funds

While fuel cards, Mastercard payroll cards and OTR payments are all helping to handle the health of the company finances, the industry is also starting to focus on the physical health of the drivers. Driving a truck is one of the most rigorous occupations in the world and the industry is facing a desperate driver shortage because of it. These men and women are on the road and away from their families for weeks at a time. They are lonely and disconnected and oftentimes lacking sleep for days on end which can often lead to extreme anxiety and depression. Many believe that one of the factors for the driver shortage in the industry is related to the health risk associated with the profession. With growing statics as follows, 70% of truck drivers are obese and at high risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes, it’s no wonder that the industry is threatened by health-related shortages. Further study by the transportation industry reports that 21 percent of drivers who left the field in recent years, did so for health reasons. Even more concerning is this statistic put out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

According to the FMCSA, the life expectancy for drivers is a whopping 16 years shorter than the national average.   

There are multiple factors associated with the statistic above, and with research for a recent article on the health crisis in the trucking industry, Mike Natalizio says, “Professional drivers face unique health challenges that pose obstacles to traditional wellness efforts.  The health of drivers is put into jeopardy by daily risks like:”

  • Lack of healthy food options on the road and reduced chance for exercise, leading to a higher rate of obesity.  55% of drivers are obese (compared to 33% of U.S. men).
  • Poorly designed workspaces (truck cabs) can cause ergonomic injuries
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • One of the highest rates of musculoskeletal injuries (from loading and unloading)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Sleep apnea
  • Depression, loneliness or anxiety stemming from isolation while on the job

Although concerns may have reached a critical mass, the industry has recognized the crisis and is addressing the problem. Just like the innovation and improvements in the financial health of the company, so too are innovations in the physical health of the company. Drivers don’t have easy answers like payroll cards or electronic payments to get healthy, but they do have access to electronic coaching and other remote tools to help keep them on track and in shape as they are traveling.

National Public Radio recently reported on a man who hopes to change the lives of 7,000 drivers by teaching them healthy habits and how to stay fit on the road.

Siphiwe Baleka is a former swimming champion in his mid-forties who has made it his mission to change the industry for the better by developing effective ways for drivers to maintain good health on the road. He works as the company coach for driver’s health and fitness at Prime Inc., a trucking company based in Springfield, Missouri. It is Mr. Baleka’s job to improve the health of 7,000 drivers currently employed at the company. He acknowledges how difficult these drivers have it on the road, averaging 11 hours at a time behind the wheel.

“Life on the road is tough. It’s lonely,” Baleka says. “There’s not a whole lot to make you feel good. So, eating is one of the things you kind of have some freedom with, to make you feel good.”

With personal experience as a truck driver himself, Mr. Baleka understands the obstacles but he was also aware that the technology the industry was using to monitor cargo, routes and deliveries would be just as effective in monitoring heart rate and body composition.

“At that time, the only thing that we didn’t have any real-time information on was the driver — the physiological state of the driver,” Baleka says. “These digital health devices now allowed me to do that. I can monitor the physical condition of the driver just like we do with a truck.”

Mr. Baleka’s program is voluntary and encourages drivers to do small bursts of exercise while they spend most of their working hours sedentary behind the wheel. Even 10 minutes of running in place or jumping jacks can boost metabolism and energy. He also recommends cutting carbs and eating high protein in small amounts throughout the day. He coaches around 3,000 drivers remotely and provides advice on how to adopt a healthy routine while driving cross country.

These health and wellness programs are taking off across the industry and they are having varied positive effects. Primarily they are working to keep their drivers healthy, but they are also working to retain and attract talent. So, while we turn to innovative systems and tools like OTR payments and the Mastercard payroll card for maintaining our financial health, we can just as easily turn to technology for the physical health of our drivers. By making an effort in keeping drivers healthy and happy, the driver shortage may have been solved by accident!



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