According to the CDC, truck drivers have one of the most dangerous jobs in America. In 2004, the fatality rate for tractor-trailer and heavy truck drivers was about 11 times higher than the fatality rate for the average U.S. worker. That same year, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses found that truck drivers had the second-highest number of injuries among all jobs. That year, about 63,570 drivers were affected by non-fatal injuries.
In addition to the risk of car and truck accidents in Hollywood and other communities, however, there is also the risk of serious illness for truck drivers. We are only now becoming more aware of the risks of illnesses and studies are showing that truck drivers may be more prone to certain illnesses due to the long hours of driving, the strain of handling cargo, and the irregular schedules they face. Studies have shown that this job results in a number of illness risks, including the risk of:
1) Heart attacks and cardiac disease. Many researchers blame the sedentary nature of truck driving for the heart attacks and heart disease that truck drivers face. Many studies have linked long periods of sitting with increased risk of mortality and heart disease, and long-haul truck drivers certainly do sit a great deal. While commercial drivers may need to load and unload, the amount of physical activity they get may not offset the many hours of inactivity. In addition, eating well on the road is a challenge, and some drivers may rely on fast food meals or on truck stop meals, which tend to be high in salt and fats. All of these conditions can lead to heart problems.
2) Cancers. A recent study by Dr. L. Joseph Su of the National Cancer Institute found a link between aggressive prostate cancer and certain occupations – specifically, truck driving, garden shop work, and work in the financial industry. Su suggested that truck drivers may face a higher risk of some cancers due to whole-body vibrations present during long hours of driving. Other studies have also shown a link between cancer and truck driving and have suggested that sedentary lifestyles coupled with limited healthy food options while on the road may play a role. Some truck drivers also deal with hazardous cargo materials, and this could potentially affect their cancer risk, some researchers note.
3) Sleep disorders. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea affect not only drivers but can also affect their ability to drive safely. Experts say that some traffic accidents in Hollywood and other communities are caused not only by fatigue but by sleep conditions. Drivers may be more at risk for sleep disorders, according to some health experts, because of the long hours of inactivity and the shift work that is part of the job. In turn, sleep disorders increase the risk of truck and car accidents in Hollywood and other communities since these disorders can cause truck drivers to fall asleep at the wheel.
4) Obesity. While not an illness in itself, obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a host of other conditions which can be dangerous for drivers. The long hours of sitting combined with the difficulty of eating right can mean drivers are at increased risk of obesity. Unfortunately, even though obesity and many other disorders are linked to truck driving, drivers may have a hard time getting workers compensation in Hollywood and other insurance benefits for their illnesses and conditions, making it harder for them to get assistance.
5) Mental health issues. A 2012 study conducted by M. Shattell, Y. Apostolopoulos, C. Collins, S. Sonmez, and C. Fehrenbacher found that truck drivers may face an increased instance of some conditions that could lead to mental health issues. Conducting a survey of 316 truck drivers, researchers concluded that 27.9% of the drivers experienced loneliness, 26.9% suffered from depression, 20.6% reported chronic sleep issues, 14.5% admitted to anxiety and 13% suffered from other emotional problems. Researchers concluded that these were issues that could significantly affect mental health and were caused by the stresses of the job as well as limited access to health care and support on the road.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a traffic accident in South Florida, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation to review your case.