Being a professional truck driver can be a dangerous and unhealthy occupation in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trucking industry accounts for nearly 15% of the nation’s work-related deaths due to accidents alone.
In addition, because of the physical demands placed upon them, truck drivers also report more on-the-job injuries, such as sprains and back and neck trouble, than workers in any other category, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.
Added to the obvious physical danger that operating such a large piece of machinery poses are the many corresponding health problems inherent to the job.
Driving is often a sedentary occupation, requiring truckers to spend several hours a day in the cab and leaving limited hours to devote to their families or personal lives. In addition, the job is a highly stressful one. Most drivers are on the road, pushing to meet very tight delivery schedules, for up to three or four weeks at a time — sometimes more.
Science says sitting is the “new smoking” Why is sitting so bad? Here’s what happens when you spend too much time sitting:
- Blood flow slows down. This can more easily allow fatty acids to build up in the blood vessels, leading to heart disease.
- Regularly sitting for extended periods of time may lead to insulin resistance, which can cause Type 2 diabetes and obesity — two major risk factors for heart disease.
- The risk of blood clots increases. A 2018 study found 82% of people who suffer from blood clots sat for a significantly greater amount of time than the remaining 18%. Blood clots can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
- The body’s ability to process fats is slowed. When you sit, your body’s production of lipoprotein lipase (an enzyme
essential for breaking down fat) drops by about 90%. When your body can’t break down fat, the fat is stored instead, leading to weight gain — which can contribute to hypertension, heart disease and premature death.
More work needs to be done to make truck driving careers healthier as well as safer. I believe we need more support from motor carriers to provide drivers with education. Driving awareness + accessibility to health screenings = results for drivers.
Look for Part 2 of this series next month.
Known as The Trucker Trainer, Bob Perry has played a critical role in the paradigm shift of regulatory agencies, private and public sector entities, and consumers to understand the driver health challenge. Perry can be reached at [email protected].