Long-Haul Truck Drivers Face Increased Risk of Disabling Conditions
Long-haul truck drivers are hardworking individuals who help to keep our country running. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the trucking industry has bounced back from its recession-fueled decline, and the number of truck drivers is at an all-time high.
Many truck drivers endure working conditions that most people would find intolerable. As a result, the drivers’ physical health often suffers, placing them at risk for a disabling illness or injury.
Truck Driving: A Risky Occupation
Although many truck drivers work a regular 40-hour workweek, almost half of them work longer hours. In comparison, approximately 25 percent of workers in all occupations work more than 40 hours a week. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, working long daily and weekly hours on an ongoing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers.
Truck drivers are also older, on average, than other workers. Their median age is 46, compared to 41 for all workers. The higher median age, combined with the increased risk for illness and injury associated with the occupation, makes truck drivers more likely to have a disability than other workers. When looking at the older workforce alone, truck drivers are more likely than other workers aged 55 and older to have a disability.
Common Truck Driver Injuries
Truck drivers are more likely to suffer back and neck injuries than the average U.S. worker. The job requirements and lifestyle associated with truck driving do not do workers any medical favors.
Back and neck injuries can happen as a result of:
- Accidents involving a tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle
- The vibration of the truck and continuous bouncing of the driver’s seat
- Repetitive stress: sitting for long periods of time, bending and lifting heavy cargo, jumping up and down from the truck cab or onto a loading dock
- Loading and unloading: moving heavy objects, slipping or tripping while handling cargo
Other Disabling Conditions
Back and neck injuries aren’t the only ailments that can leave truck drivers disabled. Other diseases and conditions that result from eating and self-care habits, often difficult to manage on the road, may render truck drivers disabled as well.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health interviewed 1,670 drivers at 32 truck stops throughout 20 states. Here is what they discovered:
These risk factors greatly increase a truck driver’s chance of experiencing an endless list of disabling chronic illnesses or injuries. Unhealthy behaviors like getting less than 6 hours of sleep, having limited physical activity, smoking, being obese, having high blood pressure or having high cholesterol were also noted. In fact, more than half of the truckers surveyed noted that they had at least two of these. That increases the risks of suffering from a disabling condition.
The troubling effects of this sedentary lifestyle are considerable. People who are obese are at an increased risk of heart disease, joint pain, back pain, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. If a trucker is diagnosed with these conditions, it might disqualify them from being able to drive semi-trucks because of the health qualifications required for a commercial driver’s license.
Disability Insurance For Truck Drivers
In addition to taking steps to prioritize their health, truck drivers should invest in a strong long-term disability insurance policy. Truckers should consider an own-occupation policy, which would make them eligible for benefits if they are unable to continue driving a truck as the result of disability. Consult a trusted insurance agent or broker when determining what type of disability coverage will best suit needs.
Contact Us For A Free Consultation
Insurance companies have a long history of denying truck driver disability claims. There are many reasons for this, including:
- A lack of medical records to support the disability claim
- A policy that only pays if you are in an accident, not injured on the job
- The belief that you were injured in the past but are now able to work your job as outlined by your company
- An investigation that shows you may not be disabled
Fortunately, the experienced legal team at DarrasLaw is here to help. Our attorneys have helped truck drivers from across the United States with every stage of the disability claims process, from initial applications to appeals. If you have questions about the language in your policy or how to file a claim, contact us today for a free consultation. We provide free consultations on all disability insurance matters, including free policy analysis, free case evaluation and free claim help.