Being an over-the-road truck driver is not an easy job. It’s a lot more difficult than you might think, especially when it comes to health. Truckers are behind the wheel long hours, obviously sitting, and have few opportunities to stretch their legs or even get a minimal amount of exercise. Deadlines are a part of their lives. And after working for a few years, they find their health begins to suffer. Like others of us who work sitting down, truckers also must incorporate a movement break every 30 minutes, according to countless health surveys — even if it’s just for five minutes. Sitting too long often leads to a variety of health problems. There’s a reason it’s colloquially referred to as “the new smoking.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data, over-the-road truck drivers experience injuries and illnesses that force them to take days away from work at a rate of 298.7 incidences per 10,000 full-time workers. This number is about double the rate of other hazardous professions, such as construction and extraction (168.9) and more than double farming, fishing and forestry industries (147.8).
Failure to take recommended regular work breaks that allow truckers to move around – even briefly – ends up forcing them to eventually deal with:
- Obesity – Truck drivers are known for being overweight. Lack of movement and exercise is the key reason they suffer from obesity.
- Hypertension – Abnormally high blood pressure (150 or higher Systolic) is a symptom of hypertension, or unusually high blood pressure.
A 2014 study by the National Institute of Health and Safety revealed that 88 percent of long-haul truckers reported having at least one risk factor (such as hypertension and obesity) for chronic disease, compared to only 54 percent of the general U.S. adult working population. And when you combine obesity, hypertension, and a lifestyle that includes little if any exercise; the risk of Type 2 diabetes is all but assured. Throw in smoking; which close to half of OTR truckers say they do, and the long-term outlook for a trucker’s health can look awfully dim.
Though this comes as no surprise, another survey published in December 2018 by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham revealed that nearly half of all musculoskeletal injuries reported by long-haul truck drivers are to their arms, backs or necks. The most common injuries reported were sprains and strains.
Researchers interviewed 1,300 drivers at 32 truck stops across the country. In order to be precise, their questions were directed only at participants who were working exclusively as a long-haul truck driver as their primary occupation during the previous year and “took at least one 10-hour rest period each day of their cross-country run.”
Other general problems truckers experience include:
- Fatigue from driving long hours every day
- Depression from what’s often a lonely job
- Sleep apnea, which is another dangerous byproduct of hypertension and obesity
- Heightened stress from constant pressure by their transport employers to reach their destination on time.
It’s easy to see that long-haul truckers work hard for their money, but health problems can make them a danger to those of us who must share the road with them.
If you or anyone in your family has been injured in a semi crash, the Billy Johnson Law Firm in Pikeville, Kentucky, is here to help you. Contact us by phone or through this website to schedule your appointment for a free case evaluation.