The truck driver lifestyle poses many health risks due to the abnormal lifestyle. Seventy hour work weeks, away from home for weeks and months at a time, stressful schedules to meet and improper diet and sleep habits all contribute too many health problems.
Truck drivers of all categories: local, regional and long haul, work around the clock shifts in many instances. A great majority will do most of their driving during the night when traffic is less. Many local drivers operate during the night shift as well and on average, regardless of work schedule, they will often average between five to six hours of sleep per day.
The health risks posed upon truckers are no secret and the FMCSA has stepped up its role in working to alleviate many of the causes that they believe adds to safety issues. Still, the overall general lifestyle of those in trucking can lead to serious health issues.
Recommendations include limiting the work schedule to 12 hours, allowing for a minimum of two full nights’ sleep between day and night shifts and most importantly, avoid working a permanent night shift.
The study showed that consistently working a night shift can lead to a breakdown in the nervous system which can cause health issues such as obesity and high cholesterol, which is common for the vocation. Other health issues that many truck drivers face include: diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood sugar, back pain, joint pain and arthritis, just to name a few.
Compounding the problem is the lack of concern by the motor carriers, shippers and receivers who often fail to adhere to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service rule which establishes how many hours a truck driver can work within a 24 hour period.
Abnormal work hours such as a permanent night shift can lead to further health complications and since many truck drivers are expected to meet pickup and delivery schedules that are set at various appointment times throughout the week, both day and night, the lifestyle is a continual problem for adequate health and rest issues.