We all know that trucking is not a career conducive to living a healthy life. Long hours of sitting, random sleep schedules and the challenge of getting healthy food all lead to poor health if we don't radically intervene. It's even been reported that the average life span of a trucker is 61 years. Hearing this is very bothersome, but really not surprising. Thanks to Sandi Soendker, former editor-in-chief of Land Line Magazine, we know that information must be understood in context. You can read her very informative article here.
In order to track test subjects dying at an average age of 61, the researchers had to go way back and gather drivers with dates of hire between 1965-1975. The world and trucking has changed A LOT since those years. Smoking was more prevalent, pollution was not as regulated, there was no such thing as air ride and air conditioning. Our trucking forefathers definitely had a tougher job than we do today.
With all that being said, you and I probably agree that the average trucker today will not live as long as our fellow non-trucking citizens. Spending long hours cramped up in a vehicle day after day is not a recipe for a long life. We've read countless articles on eating right and exercising while out on the road and rightfully so. Making these changes in our lives will help prevent us from being a statistic as mentioned in the study. What I haven't heard much about is what I want to tell you about now: the air that you breathe has a tremendous effect on your life expectancy.
A study in China shows that life expectancy for over 500 million citizens in a certain geographical area has been reduced 5.5 years due to coal pollution. Truckers are especially vulnerable to air pollution as we're constantly operating in industrial and densely populated metropolitan areas. I transported gasoline for 12 years and I know that had a negative effect on my life expectancy. On each bill of lading, it stated that "gasoline contains Benzene and studies have shown that prolonged exposure to Benzene causes cancer."
Sleeping in truck stops where everyone is idling all night long will also negatively affect your health. I steer clear of them. I get fuel, shower and eat and get out! I've tried it, but can't make it work. On those good temperature days, I used to try and open my vents and sleep without the truck running and immediately the smell of other truck's exhaust would flood my sleeper. With trucks not being welcomed in most places, it's tough to find a safe and environmentally healthy place to park. However, when our health and safety is at risk, it deserves our extra effort!