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A survey of almost 1,700 long-haul truck drivers showed many risk factors for chronic illness like high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and sleep deprivation. The job itself is a big contributor to the problem, long hours, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and irregular hours along with a lot of caffeine to keep going. Here’s a closer look at the truck driver health risks all truckers should be aware of:

Sleep Deprivation

Consider that the average lifespan for a long- haul commercial driver is 61 years old vs. 78 years old for the average American. Commercial drivers typically only get half the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation is a large contributor to health and in the case of driver’s, public safety too. Lack of sleep is linked to accidents, train derailments, and even an oil spill. A lack of sleep is a huge contributor to high-risk conditions and risk to the driver and the company.


  • Medications, alcohol and caffeine contribute to sleepiness.
  • The benefit of caffeine fades and the ability to concentrate fades with it.
  • Caffeine can prevent one from being able to fall asleep when rest time becomes available.
  • Simple drowsiness can reduce attention to surroundings and slow reaction time.
  • Lots of work, little pay – drivers are expected to drive up to 14 hours straight a day.
  • Not enough time off – truckers rarely get more than one day off a week.
  • Hunting for a place to sleep – with states continually shutting down designated rest stops for truckers, it is hard to find a good and safe place to rest.
  • Spots to park can be off the route and it creates problems when resuming work the next day.



According to research, over 90% of drivers are overweight. The nature of the job indicates that truck drivers are twice as likely to be obese than working adults in other occupations. It takes planning and working ahead of time to schedule to exercise and have good eating habits. 88% of drivers surveyed said they have at least one risk factor such as smoking, obesity or high blood pressure for chronic disease compared to 54% of the general adult working population. Only 14% of the 3 million truckers in the US are not overweight or obese. Only 8% regularly exercise compared to 49% of the general population.


  • Due to the long hours on the job, drivers rarely eat 3 hot meals a day.
  • Truckers often survive on high calorie, prepackaged snacks throughout the day.
  • Often truckers eat a large, unhealthy meal of ‘comfort food’ before going to bed for the night.
  • Lack of exercise from hours and hours of sitting in a truck.


Lack of Health Care

It is close to impossible for a truck driver to make and keep medical appointments and this limits the options available when health problems come up which leads to many truck drivers ignoring symptoms.


  • Diabetes – The lifestyle and diets available on the road lead to an increased risk of diabetes. Insulin dependent diabetes patients are not allowed to drive, although some exemptions do exist. How ironic that the very lifestyle the trucking industry leads open truckers up to the disease in the first place.
  • Depression – Because of the time spent away from home, depression is a real issue. The road and driving all those miles can lead to a general sense of loneliness.


There is a need to focus on the health of drivers and institute programs that will help to improve health and wellness. It is a desirable job to some, to see the open road, experience freedom and spontaneity of different locals every day or two but many truckers also suffer healthwise for it.

Truck drivers are vital to our economy, delivering goods across the nation in a timely way and there is a need to work toward finding a way to improve the lives of this service industry financially and healthwise for them and their families.