If the Indian truck drivers are known to be more prone to HIV than any other segment of the population, in the US too they are more at risk of contracting a whole range of health problems than most others .
They account for nearly 15 percent of U.S. work-related deaths. Obesity is rampant among them. Many don't bother to wear seatbelts because their stomachs get in the way, says a study commissioned by the Transportation Research Board, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
Of course the trucking industry has the most fatalities of all occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says truck drivers account for nearly 15 percent of all worker deaths in the most recent data available, from 2005. (The death rate per 100,000 is higher for other occupations.) Of those trucker deaths, 80 percent involved traffic accidents, the bureau said.
Truck drivers also report more injuries, such as sprains, than workers in any other category, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Many of them unload the goods they carry, risking back injuries.
As many as half of drivers are regular smokers, compared to about one-fifth of all Americans. Many truckers are obese, and only about one in 10 get regular aerobic exercise.
Sleep apnea, which is linked to obesity, is rampant too. An industry study a few years ago found 28 percent of drivers had it; that compares with about 4 percent in the general population who have the disorder.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that can be serious. In sleep apnea, your breathing stops or gets very shallow. Each pause in breathing typically lasts 10 to 20 seconds or more. These pauses can occur 20 to 30 times or more an hour.
The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. That means you are unable to get enough air through your mouth and nose into your lungs. When that happens, the amount of oxygen in your blood may drop.
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