With many drivers citing poor health as a reason for leaving their carriers, the health challenges drivers face cannot be ignored. Drivers may find it difficult to maintain regular physician visits due to fluctuating schedules and routes, financial difficulties, or a lack of insurance. Others still, may feel the mandatory medical examinations they are required to undergo every two years meets their healthcare needs. With 83% of long-haul truck drivers reporting their health to be excellent, very good, or good, the lack of medical care may not appear to be an issue. Looking more closely though, one can see what problems lie beneath the surface.
According to a recent study by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health long-haul truck drivers are at risk for a multitude of chronic diseases. In fact, “61% of drivers reported having two or more risk factors: hypertension, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, no physical activity, or 6 or fewer hours of sleep per 24-hour period.”1 Drivers were compared to working adults who participated in the annual National Health Interview Survey conducted by the U.S. Census. The study revealed some of the key differences between the two groups and highlighted many of the health challenges drivers face, particularly those associated with obesity and diabetes.
Drivers suffer higher rates of obesity (68.9%) than the general population (30.5%) making them twice as likely to be obese.1 Some of the more serious risks associated with obesity are heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Diabetes is also more common among drivers (14.4%) than other adults (6.8%). In addition to being a genuine health concern, diabetes can affect a driver’s ability to work as it can be a disqualifying condition for a CDL if it is uncontrolled. Drivers requiring the use of insulin to manage their illness face additional challenges for certification.
Drivers appear to be at great risk for chronic diseases. Given the challenges they face to receive proper and consistent healthcare, it is important to maintain healthy habits between physician visits and medical exams.
- The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute offers helpful tips for drivers wishing to improve their health by focusing on how to eat healthy on the road: http://www.drivinghealthy.org/
- TA-Petro also supports healthy living at its shopping centers by providing healthier meal choices at their convenience stores and restaurants. The company also helps make increasing physical fitness a little easier by offering workout areas at many of its locations: 54 sites offer fitness rooms, 27 sites offer basketball hoops, and nearly 150 sites offer walking trails. For a detailed map of these locations, visit: http://www.ta-petro.com/amenities/stayfit
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 Seiber, W. K., Robinson, C.F., Birdsye, J., Chen, G.X., Hitchcock, E.M., Lincoln, J.E., Nakata, A., and Sweeny, M.H. (2014). Obesity and Other Risk Factors: The National Survey of U.S. Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 57 (6), 615-626.