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Common health issues faced by truck drivers

Written by: Nick Kovgunov
Common health issues faced by truck drivers

Common Truck Driver Health Problems and Ways to Combat Them

Being a long-haul trucker means you’re going to have to spend long hours sitting while you’re moving your load down the road toward your destination. Unfortunately, those long grueling hours spent behind the wheel can have any number of negative effects on your overall health and well being.

Office workers who spend long hours sitting in front of a computer face some of the same health issues as truckers, the difference being that it’s much easier for them to take a break and get up and move around. Some even use special desks allowing them to stand while working, an option obviously not available to truck drivers.

All is not lost, however. In this article we’ll discuss some of the most common health issues faced by drivers, and we’ll also suggest some simple steps every driver can take to deal with the health risks that are a common part of their profession.

Common Truck Driver Health Problems

According to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are some of the more common health issues faced by truckers.


The CDC study found that truckers are twice as likely to be obese as other workers in the U.S. Being obese, or even overweight, can lead to any number of health problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep disorders like sleep apnea


Unfortunately, truckers often smoke as a means of fighting fatigue, and the CDC found that truckers were twice as likely to be smokers as other Americans. Smoking puts you at risk for:

  • Many forms of cancer, including lungs, bladders, blood, cervix, colon/rectal, kidneys, esophagus, liver, larynx, stomach, and pancreas
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Emphysema

Lack of Physical Activity

Getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week has been shown to have many health benefits including better sleep, reduced stress, and enhanced alertness. Yet, the CDC found that three out of four of the drivers they surveyed conceded that they did not get the recommended amount of weekly exercise.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when your blood pressure is elevated and remains at that level for prolonged periods. In the CDC survey, 26 percent of truck drivers conceded having high blood pressure, compared to 24 percent of other U.S. workers. High blood pressure raises your risk of heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) level is too high. Blood glucose comes from the foods we eat and is essential to provide the energy needed to keep the body functioning normally. Insulin produced by the pancreas works to keep glucose within normal levels, but when the body produces too little – or possibly none – or when the body doesn’t use insulin well, glucose remains in the blood and doesn’t reach the cells of your body where it’s needed.

Having too much glucose in the blood over time can lead to a number of health problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Blindness
  • Possible amputation of toes, feet, and legs

Mental and Emotional Side Effects of Being a Truck Driver

In addition to these physical problems, there are also mental and emotional issues often connected with truck driving. It’s common for truckers to spend long days and nights by themselves. This prolonged loneliness can easily lead to depression, which can be increased by the lack of sleep.

Ways to Promote Better Health on the Road

Fortunately, though the job of driving a truck requires prolonged hours of sitting, there are steps every trucker can take to offset the effects that driving that big rig and delivering your cargo on schedule can have on your health.

Develop Healthier Eating Habits

We know the temptation is great to chow down on fast food, like a loaded sub sandwich or one of those hot dogs simmering on the truck stop grill. That’s OK from time to time, but try to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and keep the sugary and salty drinks and snacks to a minimum. To accomplish all that, you might prepare, or ask your wife to prepare, several meals in advance of your next trip that you can store in a cooler in your rig.


During fuel and rest stops, take the time to move around some to get the blood flowing. Also try to do a few stretching exercises, and don’t worry about what others might be thinking. You’re doing things that need to be done to prevent health issues like obesity.


Keeping your body hydrated is essential to energize your muscles, aid digestion, and maintain core body temperature. It’s easy to overlook hydration while driving or loading or unloading your rig, but try to keep water handy and drink the equivalent of 8 glasses a day.

Take Care of Your Skin

It might seem silly to use sunscreen while driving a truck, but even in that cab you can suffer over exposure to the sun’s rays and become a victim of “drivers face.” Over time that exposure can potentially lead to skin cancer. So, keep a supply of sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 handy and use it daily.

Get Your Rest

We know life on the road can be irregular, but it’s still essential to try to get 7-8 hours of sleep. To promote better sleep:

  • Avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks before trying to sleep.
  • Try to relax before trying to sleep, maybe by reading or listening to a favorite podcast.
  • Avoid using the screen of any electronic device for at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

Stay in Touch

To combat the loneliness of the road, stay in touch with friends and loved ones, just don’t text while driving. You might even consider writing a journal to record your thoughts and feelings, and if you suffer from prolonged depression, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist. There is nothing weak about doing that!

Clean Up the Clutter

A tidy, well-organized work space, including the cab of your truck, can help you feel comfortable and lift your spirits. So, buy an organizer to hold things like loose coins and sunglasses, keep disinfectant handy and use it liberally, and invest in a small garbage can to hold the accumulated litter.

Job Assistance from US Trucking

We hope you’ve found this information and our suggestions helpful, and if you’re a trucker looking for your next assignment, you’ll reach out to your friends at US Trucking Service. We’re in touch with companies all across the United States looking for qualified drivers like you, and our professional agents will be glad to work with you and help you find your next job.

So, contact us at US Trucking Service and let’s get rolling!