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Changing Face of Truck Drivers Could Prevent Accidents

  • Most people have a certain mental image of what a truck driver “should” look like, and it’s probably a Caucasian, middle-aged or older man. And indeed, there is some truth to the stereotype. Okay, there’s a lot of truth to the stereotype: According to a 2017 report from the American Trucking Associations, 94 percent of truckers are male, and two-thirds are white.


    But driver demographics could be on the brink of change. A 2018 article in The New York Times delves into the staffing crisis currently facing the industry. As fewer young people express interest in a life on the road and turnover at some fleets rises to an annualized rate of 95 percent, a record shortage of an estimated 50,000 drivers threatens to bottleneck supply chains and, ultimately, raise prices for consumers. 


    The Transportation Department and the industry have been attempting to alleviate the shortage by loosening some safety regulations and launching programs designed to entice non-traditional drivers — women, people of color, and young people — into becoming truckers.


    Kevin Reid, the founder of the National Minority Trucking Association, is quoted in the Times article. He says trucking companies “are making the adjustments because they have to. . . . Trucking is an industry that needs to be rebranded.”


    Will a New Generation of Drivers Result in Safer Roads?


    The Transportation Department under the Trump administration has rolled back a number of safety regulations that industry lobbyists deem burdensome, like the requirements that drivers be screened for sleep apnea and that speed-limiting software be installed in rigs. They are also supporting a pilot program that allows drivers under the age of 21 with military training to operate commercial vehicles across state lines. If the trial is successful, the age limit could be reduced for all people, regardless of military status.


    While it may seem counterintuitive that making these changes could lead to safer roads — and, to be clear, we are not asserting that it will — there is another side to consider. That’s the fact that the current population of truck drivers skews toward the older and unhealthier side. And that’s not a good thing for road safety.


    Truck Driving Is Not a Healthy Lifestyle


    Sitting sedentary in a cab, hour after hour, day after day. The stress of being away from family or any human interaction. The lack of cooking facilities and access to healthy foods. The sheer monotony and boredom of life on the road. It’s little wonder that truck drivers tend to be less healthy than people in other professions, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).


    • They are twice as likely to be obese as other workers in the United States. This increases their risk for heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
    • The smoking rate among truck drivers is twice that of other U.S. workers. Female truck drivers are three times more likely to smoke than other working women. This makes them good candidates for heart disease, emphysema, stroke, and many cancers.
    • Only one out of four male truckers and one out of five female truck drivers say they get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days per week.
    • Truck drivers have increased rates of high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes, too.


    Many of these conditions go hand in hand. And a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has linked the presence of three or more related medical conditions with a statistically significant increased crash risk among truck drivers. That’s bad news for the truckers themselves as well as anyone who shares the road with them.


    If you’ve been injured by a truck driver in or around Indianapolis, you need the expertise of an experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyer to help determine the strength of your claim and who is at fault, and help you build a case for the compensation necessary to put your life back on track.