DAILY NEWS Nov 29, 2012 1:56 PM - 0 comments

Prime Inc.'s Robert Low on why driver health must be a priority

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By: James Menzies

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- The only safe driver is a healthy driver. That’s the mantra of Prime Inc. president and founder Rob Low, who spoke at the most recent Driving for Profit seminar.

This is more than just lip service at Prime Inc., which has built a 40,000 sq.-ft. Millennium Center that offers an on-site doctor, personal trainer, exercise equipment and one-on-one assistance in achieving health-related goals such as giving up smoking.

Low, who is currently chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association, has seen some benefits from the investment. His company won the first annual TCA Trucking’s Weight Loss Showdown competition. A team of a dozen Prime drivers and staffers shed 353 lbs during the competition.

Low believes the trucking industry will never shed its image problem until it presents a healthier workforce.

“Our image is never going to be solid, unless we address this issue,” Low said of driver health and wellness. “We have to have the courage to bring up the issue.”

The industry, Low said, needs to provide drivers with the tools needed to improve their overall health, but he also said carriers should address the issue in a “considerate” and “articulate” manner, realizing genetics often play a role and that not everyone is going to achieve the same results.

Low said it’s “appalling” that professional drivers tend to die much younger than other people in the workforce.

Prime’s health and wellness program, which utilizes a personal trainer and offers 13-week programs for groups of 30-40 drivers at a time, is less than a year old, so Low said it’s too soon to declare it a success.

He also said it will take time to get truck stops on-board and offering healthier alternatives. Some truck stop chains have committed to offering healthier options for drivers, but Low acknowledged they must cater to their clientele, and a fruit bowl that goes untouched may not be offered for long.

“This is a long-term battle,” Low said. “It’s not going to be over during my tenure as chair of TCA.”

Carriers, Low concluded, owe it to their drivers to help them achieve a healthier lifestyle.

“If we say we love our people, we have to he them live healthier lives and longer lives,” he reasoned.

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