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Study links truck drivers' health to increased crash rates

For a truck driver, the open road serves as his or her workplace and a day at the office can be full of stressful and challenging situations. From navigating heavy traffic and dealing with inclement weather to pressure to deliver loads on time and sitting behind the wheel of a large truck for hours; the occupational hazards of the trucking industry are multiple and varied.

A recent study conducted by the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health and the University of Utah, aimed to discover how the occupational conditions that are seemingly inherent to the trucking industry may be affecting crash rates among truck drivers.

Based on a survey of nearly 800 truck drivers from six states, researchers discovered some disturbing ties between truck drivers' health and an increase in crash rates. For example, researchers were able to determine that truck drivers who have high pulse pressure and/or who report being fatigued are at a greater risk of causing or being involved in a traffic accident.

The occupational responsibilities associated with being a truck driver can take a significant toll on a trucker's lifestyle and health. Long hours, stressful work conditions, heavy lifting and lack of both exercise and sleep are all commonly experienced by truckers. Consequently, these occupational risks can negatively impact a truck driver's ability to remain alert and vigilant while behind the wheel as well as his or her overall health.

For example, while the obesity rate among U.S. adults is 35 percent, the obesity rate among U.S. truck drivers is 62 percent or nearly double the already high national average. This and similar studies are helpful in identifying occupational health risks and potentially finding ways to eliminate or mitigate these risks to help ensure for not only the health and safety of individual truck drivers, but also of the millions of drivers, passengers and pedestrians with whom they share the road.

Source: Claims Journal, "Lifestyle, Occupational Factors Increase Crash Risks for Truck Drivers," Oct. 22, 2015

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