April 17, 2014

Healthy drivers are happy drivers

Bonni Morr

By Bonnie Morr, 
Vice President, Bus Department – 

As the year kicks off, I must ask you: “How are you doing?”

“I am healthy and happy” is the answer I’d love to hear, but, sadly, it’s the answer I hear less and less.

Consider our work schedules, and the nature of our jobs: We sit all day strapped in a seat. We tend to bounce around as we vibrate down the road. Meals are often on the run. We are usually rushed and often eat whatever we can get our hands on.

As drivers, we also are exposed to all types of chemicals, as well as noxious exhaust fumes.

Also, our work schedules can range anywhere from eight hours to upwards of 15 hours.

But help is on the way. A group of researchers are working on the health of the bus operator. Federal funding has been set aside specifically to study what has been happening to our health.

Preliminary findings are that drivers are at increased risk of contracting diabetes, high blood pressure, poor circulation and respiratory problems, as well as weight problems.

At our upcoming regional meetings (see the center of this paper), we are hoping to have some presentations on bus operator health concerns. Don’t forget to register as soon as possible.

Also, we in the UTU stand in solidarity with New York City school bus operators who are currently on strike. The city and Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union are in dispute over seniority and other issues. If you see a striking school bus operator please give them a thumbs up.