8 minute read

AI Imagines What Future Delivery Drivers Looks Like

Find out what AI thinks a delivery driver will look like if their poor work habits remain unchecked.

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Unhealthy habits on the road can have long-term consequences. We surveyed more than 1,000 American delivery drivers about their work habits to predict what career delivery drivers will look like in the next 25 years.

Key takeaways

  • More than 50% of delivery drivers are unsatisfied with their overall health.
  • Lower back pain (47%), lack of sleep (37%), and a hunched back (36%) are the most common ailments delivery drivers struggle with. 
  • Over half of drivers report eating habits that can contribute to physical and mental ailments. 
  • A company can lose an average of $600-$700 per day, or $3,000-$3,500 per week, just because an employee is in poor health.

How habits shape the future

Dedicated delivery drivers and dispatchers keep everyone fed, clothed, and healthy but have long dealt with occupational health risks. How healthy are drivers today, and what’s in store for their future health?

To find out how poor work habits might affect drivers over the long term, we used artificial intelligence (AI) to turn their survey responses into images of what they might look like in 25 years if their habits continue.

Perspectives from the driver’s seat

First, we asked drivers to share their eating habits, work hours, and current health issues.

Habits of delivery drivers

With more than 50% of respondents unsatisfied with their overall health, it’s clear there’s room for improvement. One place to start might be their diet: More than half consumed fast food while on the job.

Getting a cheap and fast bite while on the road can add up and cause health conditions over time. Coupled with long periods of inactivity, drivers who often turn to fast food are in for serious health consequences like depression, heart disease, and obesity. 

Besides diet, driving posture may be among the most important factors in preventing many of the ailments drivers suffer from. Sitting in a vehicle for four to six hours each day (like most of our respondents have) can cause lower-back pain — an issue reported by nearly half of those surveyed.

It’s easy to slouch during a nine-hour drive, which is how long 20% of American drivers are in their seats each day. But this posture can even change how you look: More than a third of drivers experienced a hunched back and rounded shoulders.

More than one in three drivers also reported lack of sleep. Like fast food diets, not getting enough sleep can cause obesity and depression, and if left unchecked, it can even lead to diabetes and stroke. Being refreshed and alert while on the road is also a safety measure, considering the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel.

Key takeaway: More than 50% of delivery drivers are unsatisfied with their overall health.

Future health consequences 

Next, we used AI to depict what future delivery drivers might look like if they don’t change their unhealthy habits. The software interpreted a set of words related to drivers’ reported ailments, like “not healthy, obese, rounded shoulders, baggy eyes, unhappy,” to generate a randomized image.

The results were pretty unappealing.

AI-generated image of a future delivery driver if bad habits remain uncheckedAI-generated images of a future delivery driver if bad habits remain uncheckedAI-generated image of a future delivery driver if bad habits remain uncheckedAI-generated image of a future delivery driver if bad habits remain uncheckedAI-genereated image of a future delivery driver if bad habits remain unchecked
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These AI-generated images reveal a grim outlook for the average delivery driver. Baggy eyes are a common result of not getting enough sleep, while extensive sitting can cause back pain (which many respondents have experienced).

“Trucker belly” and obesity, in general, are often due to poor diet and inactivity — both of which can become common for people who drive for a living. 

Increased blood pressure is another concern for delivery drivers; sometimes, poor nutrition is to blame. Emotional stress and a short temper are likely constant issues for someone dealing with traffic all day and can also raise your blood pressure.

These effects aren’t easily left on the road and can also cause problems at home. Combined with the isolation many drivers face in their line of work, these factors can cause mental and physical issues like anxiety, depression, disease, and even death.

How sickness impacts the company

Employees aren’t the only ones who suffer when their health is poor; businesses suffer too. Sick leave, replacement contractor costs, medical insurance, and delivery speeds are all impacted by the negligence of one’s health.

On average, a company can lose anywhere from $600-$700 per day, or $3,000-$3,500 per week, just because an employee is in poor health. Here’s a look at some of the costs.

Based on the national average salary of a courier, employers can pay around $716 weekly to cover an employee’s sick time. Contracting a replacement typically costs about $354 per week and medical insurance averages around $124 a week.

Last-minute callouts also cause delays, impacting delivery speed.

Some couriers operate by the minute, so an hour-long delivery project may total $45 if charged at $0.75 per minute. When deliveries fall behind schedule, businesses could see a weekly loss of roughly $1,800 on a driver’s five-day workweek.

Key takeaway: A company can lose an average of $600-$700 per day, or $3,000-$3,500 per week, just because an employee is in poor health.

Tips for team manager dispatchers

A dispatcher’s role is similar to that of a conductor in an orchestra; they keep the music flowing ensuring all moving parts are moving in unison. Some days are more difficult to conduct than others, especially when drivers call out sick.

The best dispatchers are assertive and confident multi-taskers and leaders. They also excel at problem-solving and effective communication, which is why you can reach your drivers and offer the help they need.

If drivers fail to offset unhealthy habits, you’ll likely have to deal with many employee absences and delivery disruptions in the future. Below is some expert advice you can share with your team to help them along their routes and in their daily lives.

Delivering yourself to better health

The good news is that many health problems are preventable if they’re recognized, understood, and acted on early in a driver’s career.

Circuit for Teams experts shared some ways to combat the issues threatening today’s American delivery drivers. Here’s how delivery drivers can take control of their health.

How can delivery drivers eat healthier while on the job? Do you recommend a particular diet? 

“Preparation is key when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the road all day. Meal prepping in bulk eliminates having to resort to “quick and easy” meals such as fast food.

As for the diet, sticking to unprocessed, whole foods is the ideal approach. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.

Be mindful of sodium and refined sugars, which play a large role in hypertension and hyperglycemia, respectfully.”

How much water should drivers consume on a daily basis? How much caffeine is too much, and what drinks should be avoided?

“Avoid or limit drinks high in sugar, such as sugary coffee and energy drinks, sodas, and fruit juices without pulp. Frequently drinking these has been associated with weight gain, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, tooth decay, cavities, and gout.

Getting enough water is essential for regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, protecting the spinal cord, and eliminating bodily waste.

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women. These recommendations include fluids from water, other beverages, and food (about 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks).

As for caffeine consumption, the maximum safe limit can vary by body weight, but most healthy adults should not consume more than 400 milligrams per day. For reference, an 8-ounce cup of coffee typically contains 95 milligrams of caffeine, but energy drinks can contain far more — some have over 1,000 milligrams.”

What are some simple stretches and breathing exercises delivery drivers can do to maintain healthy blood flow and focus? How often should they do these throughout the day?

“The lower back, neck, hamstrings, and shoulders tend to get neglected from sitting all day. The more regularly you stretch, the better your body will feel.

Suggesting your drivers start their day with a 10-minute stretch in the morning is a great way to wake the body up and get the blood flowing. It might be difficult to stretch frequently while on the road, especially if your drivers need to keep up with deadlines, but stopping for even 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per day can make a difference.

Drivers should try to fit one in after each bathroom break or checkpoint along their route. There is no absolute routine to follow — just do it whenever it fits into your schedule.

Stress is another huge factor that plays into overall health, and breathing can help regulate stress. Shallow breathing reduces our body’s ability to transport oxygen and as a result, you can feel short of breath and anxious.

Deep breathing has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, aid in stress management, improve focus, help you recover faster from exercise or exertion, and improve your sleep.”

Merge into a healthier lane

With most drivers suffering from poor health and facing an even worse future, it’s important to make changes now. Accounting for every mile and drop of gas is the norm, so why not focus on every wink of sleep and bite of food as well?

Small things like brief stretching a few times a day and cutting back on caffeine and sugar can greatly improve overall health. The hardest part at first is doing these things daily, but they’ll feel like second nature in no time.

Hopefully, our AI-generated images of what can happen otherwise inspire drivers to change their routines for the better, and soon.

Methodology

We surveyed 1,001 American delivery drivers regarding their habits while on the job. The mean age of respondents was 38 years old. Among them, 55% were male, and 45% were female. Respondents comprised the following generational breakdown: 17% Gen Z, 48% millennials, 25% Gen X, and 10% baby boomers. All images were generated using the Midjourney AI tool.

About Circuit for Teams

Circuit for Teams calculates delivery routes with your entire fleet in mind. With the most efficient routes, you can keep your teams pointed in the right direction and ensure packages arrive as quickly and safely as possible.

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Published28 September 2022
Updated11 October 2022
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