Federal Regulators Concerned for Driver Health

Aug 09, 2010

Federal regulators have announced plans to step up scrutiny of sleep apnea and other health issues affecting truckers, a move that they hope will spur truck drivers to improve their health.

Truckers are more likely than average Americans to be overweight, which can lead to health problems including sleep apnea. Sleep apnea- the temporary cessation of breathing during sleep- disrupts sleep and causes fatigue, contributing to thousands of crashes a year.

Doctors involved in authoring federal transportation policy believe that up to 40 percent of professional drivers are significantly overweight.

Truck driver Marty Ellis blames the job. "Since I went to work here, I've gained 100 pounds — because you're sedentary," Ellis says. "This is your job — to sit behind this wheel."

"Most of us don't go to the doctor. We just, stay clear of 'em, and we just keep going," Ellis says. "A lot of owner operators out here don't have insurance."

The American Trucking Associations says nearly a third of drivers are likely suffer from sleep apnea, but the government has never required truckers to be tested for it. Ellis says they've always dealt with it on their own.

Drivers are encouraged to get exercise any way they can on the road- even walking around one’s truck a few times at each stop can be a significant help.  Drivers could also store a small folding bicycle to get some exercise at rest stops or simply take time to do some basic calisthenics before leaving on a job.  Regardless of the method, remember that your drivers’ health comes first!

[via Work Truck]

Photo courtesy of striatic and re-used under the Creative Commons license.