In recent years, research has shown that commercial trucks – and long-haul truckers, in particular – suffer from poor health. While this fact might not at first seem important to all drivers, it is vital to understand that sick and unhealthy truckers can be a considerable hazard on the road. Truckers have sedentary jobs that often involve eating fast food, little exercise, and irregular sleep patterns. These issues can have a shocking effect on their weight and overall health:
- This month, an Australian study found that half of all long-haul truckers suffered from sleep apnea.
- A recent study that appeared in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in 2009 found that 85 percent of truckers were overweight and 55% were obese.
- A Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that truckers are more obese than workers in any other United States industry.
- A recent University of Utah study found that almost seven out of ten truckers smoked cigarettes.
How do these issues translate to more truck accidents? Unhealthy truck drivers are more prone to the following issues:
- Driver fatigue from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, a health condition that makes it difficult to breath while asleep, can lead to daytime fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel. It is prevalent among overweight and obese men, especially those that smoke.
- Medical emergencies behind the wheel. An overweight truck driver with heart conditions, high blood pressure, and other health issues is more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke behind the wheel. Each year, accidents caused by medical emergencies kill and injure a significant number of Americans – and having a medical emergency while driving a large, heavily loaded tractor-trailer can have significantly worse consequences.
- Driver distraction from aches and pains. Many truckers report being distracted by back pain and other ailments that can stem from obesity, high blood pressure, and other chronic health issues tied to diet and lifestyle. These distractions take their mind off the road.
The good news is that a number of trucking companies have realized that their truckers’ health is suffering, and some have begun programs that reward exercise, eating right, and weight loss. At the same time, federal officials are considering new long-haul trucker regulations that would bar obese truckers and truckers suffering from sleep apnea from getting behind the wheel. However, currently far too many sick truckers are driving on our highways and interstates, endangering lives – including their own.
Have you been involved in a Virginia truck accident that could have been caused by a trucker with poor health? Speak with a VA truck crash attorney about your case today. Call 800-752-0042 to schedule a private, free appointment at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan.