Alberta truckers needed for study on driver health

SASKATOON, Sask. – Calling all Alberta truck drivers…come in Alberta truckers.

The University of Saskatchewan’s School of Public Health is looking for long-haul truck drivers from Alberta to participate in a study that will collect information on their health and wellness, lifestyle, and working conditions.

Dr. Alexander Crizzle, a faculty member of the School of Public Health, is leading the effort and has been interested in road safety for some time.

The majority of Crizzle’s research over the years has been conducted on private vehicles, but in 2014, he was asked to be part of a project examining the health and wellness of commercial drivers, a project funded by Transport Canada, which included an environmental scan consisting of a literature review and stakeholder consultations.

“We were also asked to provide recommendations for how to improve the health and wellness of commercial motor vehicle drivers, such as collecting baseline information on Canadian drivers, as there is very limited information in Canada,” said Crizzle. “Since 2014, we have taken gradual steps to build on our recommendations.”

Alberta’s Ministry of Labour provides grants focused on improving occupational health. Because Crizzle and his team secured funding from an Alberta agency, they are focusing their research on truck drivers from the Wild Rose province.

The study consists of three components: a survey, a few objective health measurements, such as height, weight, and blood pressure, and ultimately an interview.

Crizzle hopes to have approximately 400 drivers participate in the study. Over the first two weeks, the team had recruited more than 100 drivers, with plans to complete the collection of data by Sept. 16.

“We are trying to get information on several things,” said Crizzle. “The general health and wellness of long-haul truck drivers. This includes the number of drivers with medical conditions, but also those who may have risk factors for poor health, such as access to poor foods, lack of exercise, fatigue, and obesity.”

The study is also looking to evaluate truck drivers’ environment, such as where they stop for gas, food, showers, to access the Internet, and other services.

“We are asking questions on a wide range of issues,” said Crizzle, “including the use of electronic logs, parking and rest areas, access to food, truck driver training, and even potential issues related to marijuana use.”

All three aspects of the study would take a driver around an hour to complete. The collection of data began Aug. 5 in Lloydminster, Alta., and moved to Edmonton Aug. 10. Crizzle and his research team have been in Red Deer since Aug. 24, before heading to Calgary Aug. 29-31 and again Sept. 4-8 at the Flying J truck stop. Their last stop will be at the Husky truck stop in Medicine Hat Sept. 9-15.

Drivers who partake in the study will receive $20 to complete the survey, $10 for the health measurements, and another $20 for the interview.

“It’s important for long-haul truck drivers to participate,” urged Crizzle. “Typically, it is difficult to find support for any type of change, particularly in the government, without a large enough sample of drivers that can provide their thoughts and perspectives.”

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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