Safety Issues


Health Among Long-Haulers: Obesity, Diabetes, and Smoking

Long-haul truck drivers are essential to the transportation of goods in the United States. Without them, we wouldn’t have food on our tables or many of the products that make our lives better. Unfortunately, it seems their job demands may contribute to a greater chance for health problems. These workers are more likely to be overweight, diabetic, and to smoke, compared to other U.S. workers, based on results from a 2010 national survey of long-haul truck drivers. Such health problems can lead to more severe conditions that could disqualify a driver due to the potential safety risks. 


The Survey
In 2010, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) did a national survey of long-haul truck drivers to better understand how certain health conditions, behaviors, and the work environment combine to impact safety and health. It was the first survey to provide national estimates of health conditions, risk factors, and work practices for these workers.

NIOSH interviewed a total of 1,265 long-haulers at 32 different truck stops in 20 different states. Questions covered:

  • truck driving history
  • work practices
  • driving environment
  • fatigue
  • sleep
  • injury history
  • health and medical conditions
  • demographics

The information the truckers provided was compared to national estimates of the U.S. adult working population from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey

The Main Findings 
Three of the main findings are discussed here, but you can learn more about the study and other results by reading the study publication

  1.    Long-haul truck drivers were twice as likely to be obese compared to other U.S. workers.

 More than half of the drivers surveyed had two or more factors that put them at risk for chronic disease, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • obesity
  • they smoked
  • they had no physical activity
  • they had less than 6 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period

 Being overweight can cause other health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea.

 2.   Long-haul truck drivers were more than twice as likely to smoke compared to other U.S. workers. Smoking increases the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, emphysema, and stroke.

 3.   Compared to U.S. workers, long-haul truck drivers were twice as likely to have diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious health problems, including:

  • heart disease
  • blindness
  • kidney failure
  • leg amputations

Survey results suggest a need to focus on these issues to prevent injury and illness among long-haul truck drivers and improve their overall health. For more information on this study, visit the NIOSH Long-Haul Truck Driver page. Please also check out our infographic, which also presents the findings from this study. 


Safety Issues is presented by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in partnership with the National Truckers Association (NTA). NIOSH is the U.S. federal entity that conducts research and develops recommendations to prevent all kinds of occupational injuries and illnesses. NIOSH uses the results of its research to communicate prevention information to employers, workers, and others who are in a position to make changes to improve safety and health for workers. This month’s Safety Issues was contributed by the NORA Transportation Warehousing and Utilities Sector in cooperation with researchers from the NIOSH Long Haul Truck Driver Safety and Health Survey Team. Further information can be found at Work Place Safety and Health Topic: LONG-HAUL TRUCK DRIVERS