What Health Risks Do Truck Drivers Face?
Truck driving is a difficult job and a potentially dangerous one, with over 500,000 trucking accidents occurring in 2020. Sadly, the truck drivers themselves often suffer as a result of their profession, facing an array of health risks that are directly related to their jobs. In some instances, these risks can result in drivers potentially causing accidents on the road, directly resulting in an injury and the injured party needing a trucking accident lawyer.
Multiple studies have found that truck drivers tend to have worse physical and mental health than many other professions in the United States and than the population of the country in general. One study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the average life expectancy for a truck driver is just 61, which is well below that of the rest of the United States. This decreased life expectancy is tied directly to the generally poor health of truck drivers.
Sleep issues are one of the more common dangers faced by truck drivers. Unfortunately, they are also potentially the most deadly for others on the road as drivers who fall asleep can potentially injure or kill other drivers, and this is even more true when the person falling asleep at the wheel is hauling a trailer.
Many truck drivers suffer from either not getting enough sleep or sleep issues that crop up based on their driving habits. This is a fairly normal physical consequence of constantly driving and being away from home as multiple studies have shown that humans typically sleep better in a bed that they are used to rather than a constantly changing array of beds.
In addition to insomnia and difficulty sleeping, sleep apnea is a particularly common and dangerous health issue constantly faced by truck drivers. Sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing when they sleep. If untreated, it can result in death, but even in milder forms, it can disrupt sleep.
Sleep is associated with a variety of physical and cognitive functions that are desperately needed by truck drivers, including reflexes, judgment, risk-taking behavior, and more. A failure to get a good night’s sleep can result in a truck driver being more likely to be in an accident and is one of the top causes of truck driving accidents in general.
If you have been injured in a crash as a direct result of a driver who has sleep issues, you should consider contacting a trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Another common issue faced by truck drivers is obesity. This makes sense given the risks associated with truck driving. While there are periods of extended physical activity, like loading and unloading a truck, the occupation is largely sedentary. Drivers will drive for multiple hours at a time, only getting out when they arrive at a destination or stop at a rest stop. Exercise is very difficult to obtain on the road. Furthermore, truck drivers will spend the vast majority of their days sitting. The dangers of sitting too much at work have been well-documented, with many studies tying them to a variety of health challenges, including obesity.
In addition to the lack of exercise, nutritional problems abound on the road. Getting a home-cooked meal is virtually impossible, and drivers often have to settle for whatever fast food they can get at a rest stop. This food, of course, is almost never healthy, leading many drivers to adopt a diet that is high in fat and cholesterol.
To be clear, this is not a small problem for truck drivers. One study estimates that 50% of them struggle with obesity and another 23% are overweight. This means that only one in four truck drivers is at their recommended weight. Obesity can also lead to a slew of other problems, including breathing difficulty, sleeping difficulty, heart problems, high cholesterol, and more.
Injuries and Pain
While truck drivers usually sit throughout the day, they will usually have to be involved in the loading or unloading of their trucks. If they are out of shape – or even if they aren’t – they risk injuring themselves while doing so, potentially resulting in a short-term or long-term injury that can take them off of the road for weeks at a time and potentially leave them with lingering pain.
As if that isn’t bad enough, the human body isn’t generally designed to remain sitting on one spot for many hours at a time. Over time, the wear and tear of the road can get to any human, causing an array of injuries, with many truck drivers suffering from back pain in particular. Muscle soreness, tension, atrophy, and a general loss of muscular strength is also a common problem for many truck drivers. This, in turn, can lead to a variety of joint problems.
Further complicating the matter is that truck drivers often do not have the time to get the help that they need. Generally speaking, truck drivers lose money for every day they are not on the road, and if they need to take weeks off for physical therapy, they may not and opt to just power through the pain. This will only make the issue worse.
An extended period of time on the road can take its toll on a driver’s mind. The nature of truck driving, of course, is not a community one. Drivers are able to talk on the radio and interact at rest stops, but except for these brief moments as well as the time they spend loading or unloading their truck, drivers are largely isolated from others. This, in turn, can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation.
According to HealthyTruck.org, 13.6% of all truck drivers have been diagnosed with depression, a number that is much higher than in other professions. This is not particularly surprising, given the demands of this profession, the lack of time around others, and the lack of a personal life that this job often requires. Also, this is just the number of drivers who have been diagnosed; there are surely a number of others who could not take the time to seek help and receive a proper diagnosis.
In extreme cases, depression can lead to a variety of other negative health consequences, including alcoholism and other substance use disorders, disrupted sleep, and poor physical health. It can also lead to suicide: A 2020 study found that truck drivers have the fifth-highest rate of suicide out of any job in the United States.
It’s also worth noting that none of these problems exist in isolation. Depression is often related to a lack of sleep, and it can also be related to a variety of physical problems, like pain or obesity.
A good attorney can evaluate a trucking accident case your case and let you know what sort of legal options you may have in order to compensate you for your injury or loss. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo has ample experience in dealing with trucking accidents and can help you ensure that your legal and financial rights are protected. If you would like to speak to a trucking accident lawyer, contact Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo today at 732-394-1549.