Truck drivers face a disproportionately high risk for fatal crash-related injuries and for serious health disorders. The 2004 fatality rate for U.S. heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was 48.2 per 100,000 workers, approximately 11 times the rate for the general worker population. The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses estimated 63,570 non-fatal injuries among heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in 2004—the second highest number among all occupations.
We know this industry faces a high risk of illness and injury but the prevalence of specific health problems, and the relative contributions of occupation and health behaviors to the increased risk of injury and illness, is largely unknown. Some research associates the risk of crash-related deaths with job-related fatigue. Other studies suggest that the risks of cancer, heart attacks, and other disorders may be associated with aspects of long-haul driving such as loading and unloading cargo, irregular schedules, long hours of driving, a sedentary lifestyle, and the nature of drivers’ food choices on the road.
To help address these research gaps and better understand the risks faced by truck drivers, NIOSH is undertaking a national survey of truck driver safety and health. The survey, which grew out of stakeholder identified needs, will focus specifically on gathering baseline safety and health information among a large, representative national sample of truck drivers. We are seeking comment on the content and conduct of the survey through January 2, 2008. A proposed sample plan can be found on the NIOSH Documents for Public Review page. We propose to conduct the survey at 40 truck stops across the U.S., involving both owner-operators as well as company drivers.
The primary research questions for NIOSH are:
- Is the prevalence of health conditions and sleep disorders greater in the truck driver population than in the general population?
- How are drivers’ working conditions associated with health status and behaviors?
- Are sleep disorders, fatigue, and the working environment contributors to poor health outcomes, highway crashes and injuries?
- What are the risk factors, job tasks/exposures, and the short- and long-term effects of work-related injuries sustained by truck drivers?
We value your input and urge you to assist us in developing this important survey. In addition to posting comments on the blog, please submit formal comments to the NIOSH Docket. This extra step is important as we do not request or post contact information on the blog.
For more information on NIOSH research in this area visit the transportation, warehousing and utilities sector program portfolio.
Thank you for your assistance,
W. Karl Sieber, Ph.D.
Karl Sieber is a NIOSH Research Health Scientist with the Surveillance Branch of the Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies. He has worked in survey design and analysis and has developed approaches to collect hazard surveillance data including the collection of occupational exposure data in the indoor environment and from metalworking fluids.