Health Becoming Bigger Priority For Today's Truckersby Jana Ritter - Published: 1/18/2017
Truck driving is already a dangerous job and a recent study has found that truckers with three or more medical conditions are up to four times more likely to be in a crash than those in good health. And while long hours on the road certainly make it more challenging to maintain a healthy routine, the industry is stepping up with more wellness programs and some dedicated drivers are creating their own fitness regimes right from their rigs.
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(Truck driver Rodney McCloud, recent winner of Prime's Fittest of the Fleet competition)
The University of Utah School of Medicine recently conducted a study examining the correlation between truck drivers’ health and their involvement in crashes. After comparing drivers’ medical records and crash histories, they found that drivers with at least three health conditions were more likely to have been involved in crashes that could have been avoided. They also found the average crash rate resulting in injury among all truck drivers was 29 crashes per 100 million miles traveled and that number increased to 93 crashes per 100 million miles traveled for drivers with three or more ailments. The investigators said these numbers held true even after considering other factors such as age and amount of commercial driving experience. The findings also revealed that one health condition such as diabetes is manageable but diabetes combined with high blood pressure and anxiety can significantly increase a driver’s risk. It was also found that of the medical records of 49,464 commercial truck drivers, 34 percent had signs of at least one of several medical conditions (such as heart disease, low back pain, and diabetes) that have previously been linked to poor driving performance. In 2014, another survey conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health survey found that 69 percent of long-haul truck drivers were obese, which drastically increases the risk for several conditions including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and fatigue.
(More truck drivers are finding ways to stay in shape from anywhere on the road)
Of course everyone knows that sitting for long hours behind the wheel, irregular sleeping patterns, and eating on the road are prime factors that would challenge anyone to maintain good health and rather than blaming truck drivers, several initiatives have been put in place to help them. Many companies now offer wellness programs for their employees, truck stop chains across the US are installing gyms, restaurants are offering healthier menu choices and in-cab workout systems are now available on the market as well. But truck driver, Rodney McCloud, recent winner of Prime's Fittest of the Fleet competition, says that anyone can get in shape from anywhere and it's a matter of being committed and creative. The 46-year-old weighs 222 pounds, has a 33-inch waist and 18 1/2-inch biceps from a regular workout routine that can be done anywhere he parks his rig. In addition to using the weight set he carries in his truck, McCloud's workout includes forearm slams against the side of his trailer, knee kicks to the tires, and prone pull-ups and dips on the side of his rig. "Since I started driving in 2008, I've seen only one or two other truckers working out in the lot like I do. People look at you funny, but I don't care. I work out in all kinds of weather, and when I'm waiting around at a shipper, I shadowbox, skip rope, or do pushups. You make it happen when you can," says McCloud.