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The Health Risks of Being a Trucker

Many people, when they’re young, have a romantic vision of being a trucker. They dream of the freedom of driving over the whole country. The trucker, after all, has mostly replaced the old dream of being a train engineer.

For those same people, trucking becomes later in life an industry that is dirty and undesirable. Neither of these images is fair or correct. It is not the idealize job that children make it out to be, nor is it the awful job that many adults make it out to be.

The job has many benefits, and it is one of the rare professions that still guarantee a good middle-class life without requiring advanced degrees.

However, there are lots of health risks that go along with it.

For instance, anyone who has spent a few days in a row driving long days can tell you it makes for some serious potential back and neck pain issues. In fact, truck driving is the leading career to develop musculoskeletal injuries. That’s because the cab is not optimally designed to give the necessary space to stretch and keep the body in a comfortable position. The amount of sitting also increase the risks of obesity and other health issues.

There are also the risks related to driving and therefore being constantly around exhaust fumes. Many truckers smoke to help stay awake. With the combination of fumes and smoke, truckers’ lungs are particularly at risk for cancer and other diseases. Other trucks will use stimulants to stave off exhaustion which obviously have serious health risks, particularly to the heart. These can also increase the risk of accidents (more on that in a moment).

Other serious issues can be a sense of loneliness due to so much time isolated in the truck, and the real and serious likelihood of extreme fatigue (again, more on that in a moment).

By far the greatest threat to a trucker’s health, though is the risk of serious accidents. Truckers end up in 2/3s of all fatal accidents on the highway, and that is often the trucker’s fault due to exhaustion.

Other factors can lead to truck driver accidents are alcohol in the system, mechanical malfunction, truck driver error (again, often due to exhaustion, but not always), and the demands of employers that put an undue strain on the driver.

For all that, trucking is still often a very safe and enjoyable profession. It can lead to a long career that provides for a family. It is important, though, for anyone considering trucking as a profession (or even simply considering the job in general) to recognize it is neither as great as some idealized version would have you believe or as terrible as the nightmarish version some adults tell.

It’s a profession with its benefits and risks like any other. Depending on your perspective, one side likely outweighs the other.