The current spell of hot weather is causing health problems for the nation’s van drivers, according to the latest Business Barometer research from Mercedes-Benz Vans UK.

Despite warnings to carry water at all times during the heatwave, one in five van drivers are avoiding drinking water – perhaps to avoid taking toilet breaks, which can affect delivery firms’ targets.

More than 2,000 van drivers and owners were asked to give their feedback on hydration and health, and a staggering 70% said that work pressures severely affected their ability to keep hydrated and have a healthy diet – with 27% adding that they rely solely on sugary drinks or caffeine to get them through long days.

Nearly two thirds of drivers said their health had been affected by a poor diet at work, with one in ten suffering a serious health condition due to working patterns.

Another issue was drivers avoiding toilet breaks.  One in ten said they ‘wee’ on the move to avoid having to stop and potentially miss challenging targets, with 31% saying that asking to use a customer’s facility would be too awkward.

“Van drivers have a busy job and need to maintain high levels of concentration all day,” Johanna Hignett, member of the British Dietetic Association and spokesperson for the National Hydration Council, said.  “Being well hydrated is really important, not only for our physical health, but also for mental performance.  If we don’t consume enough water, we can experience fatigue, or become less alert, so it is really important that van drivers are taking on fluid throughout the day.  The European Food Safety Authority recommended fluid intake per day is 2.5 litres for men and 2 litres for women – around three quarters of which should be coming from drinks.

“Water is the healthiest way to hydrate as it contains no sugar or calories, so van drivers should make sure they always have plenty of water with them in the cab so they can take a drink at regular intervals throughout the day.”

Steve Bridge, the Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, added: “Being dehydrated impacts cognition and therefore driver ability – so it is vital that drivers take more care of their health and diet during a heatwave.  Our research also highlights an interesting debate regarding the use of customer toilets; it is perhaps unlikely that we would say no to a plumber or electrician asking to use our facilities – so why would a delivery driver be any different?