Road to Good Health!
Nearly 1 out of every 15 people in the workforce is employed in the trucking industry in America; this means there are over 7 million truck drivers on our roads. Driving a commercial vehicle requires a unique skillset and involves spending a lot of time on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has updated their regulations to reflect the demands commercial truck drivers face. These regulations include a routine physical examination with guidelines set by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

DOT exams detect physical, mental, and emotional issues that can affect a driver’s ability to safely drive a commercial vehicle. Drivers are required to pass all components of the exam to maintain his/her Commercial Vehicle License (CMV). A DOT physical exam is valid for up to 24 months, however, for individuals with health conditions that require ongoing monitoring (e.g. high blood pressure), a shorter certificate may be issued. These regulations have a significant impact on the trucking industry, as truck drivers are categorically one of the unhealthiest populations in our country as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle, lack of good nutritional options while traveling, and long, hard hours on the road. Below are a few health related statistics among the trucking population:

  • The average life expectancy of drivers is 61 years
  • More than 50 percent of truck drivers are obese, compared to the national rate of 26.7 percent
  • Compared to the general population, the prevalence of diabetes is 50 percent higher
  • 87 percent of truck drivers have hypertension or pre-hypertension, compared to the national average of 58.3 percent
  • Among the general adult population, 21 percent smoke, and 49 percent exercise regularly, while 54 percent of commercial drivers smoke cigarettes and only 8 percent get regular exercise
  • Between 3,000 and 4,000 people die in large truck and bus crashes every year in America; 13 percent of those deaths were caused by fatigued drivers
 
The most important aspect of the above statistics is that these conditions are preventable through modifying risk factors. With proper lifestyle choices, such as learning to eat healthy on the go, getting adequate rest, and fitting in exercise throughout the day, these drivers can reduce their disease risk and increase their life expectancy and quality of life.Organizations such as The Healthy Trucking Association of America, Rolling Strong, and Progressive Commercial are drawing attention to this population through the promotion and implementation of wellness programs targeted towards this population.This past August, the Great American Trucking Show hosted a Fit for The Road Health and Wellness Pavilion, which provided free health screenings, cooking, fitness, and educational demos. September has been made Trucker Health Awareness Month by Progressive Commercial Insurance. These efforts are helping to draw attention to a key problem within an important industry in the United States. By providing drivers with services that will help them on the road to good health we can increase the safety for all drivers on the road.
 
For more information on promoting health and wellness in the trucking industry, or improving the health of other hard to reach populations, contact our consulting team at info@healthpromosolutions. 
 
Sources:
http://www.npr.org/2013/06/30/197319059/new-law-puts-brakes-on-truck-drivers-schedules
JOEM 2009
NIH

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