Health and wellness in commercial motor vehicle drivers in Canada: A review of the literature

Author(s): Alexander Crizzle

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted):

5B Crizzle


Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers are exposed to long work hours, excessive noise and vibration, prolonged sitting and unhealthy lifestyles. As a consequence, CMV drivers are at higher risk for adverse health outcomes. Although there is recognition that the health and wellness of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers is important and related to road safety, there has been little systematic research in the area in Canada.

The purpose was to provide a comprehensive review of prior study findings related to health and wellness of CMV drivers in Canada with respect to safety concerns (road safety and falls).

A search of the academic journal literature was conducted using MEDLINE (PubMed), CINAHL, PsycINFO and Scopus, as well as the grey literature (i.e. conference proceedings, reports) using TRID database and the Canadian Research Index to retrieve articles published from 2000 to February 2014 in the English language. The search strategies consisted of key words and subject headings related to truck or bus drivers, accidents, health, wellness, road safety, and falls.

The search yielded 37 peer reviewed journal articles relevant to H&W of commercial drivers including 10 literature reviews, 14 intervention and 13 non-intervention studies. The grey literature search yielded 20 reports of which 3 were interventions, 8 were surveys or other designs, and 9 were literature reviews.

The findings show that CMV drivers are older, enter the profession in their late 40's or early 50's, and have multiple risk factors (i.e., smoking, obesity, hypertension, poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep) that can lead to various medical conditions (i.e., cardiovascular disorders, diabetes) and adverse events (i.e., crashes and falls). Sleep apnea is particularly problematic and is associated with increased crash risk. Screening and treating sleep apnea is paramount among commercial drivers due its high prevalence (up to 70% of CMV drivers), as well as reducing common risk factors associated with sleep apnea such as obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet and fatigue. This review also found that falls occurred in 25% of all commercial drivers (especially long haul truck drivers) and is a leading cause of worker compensation claims.

CMV drivers are widely considered a vulnerable population with unacceptably high risks of injury, morbidity and mortality. Our findings show that further research is needed to characterize the work environment and lifestyle practices (particularly sleep, smoking, diet and exercise) of CMV drivers in Canada as well as to understand the interactions between various risk factors and the health and well-being of drivers. Obtaining baseline information, including national prevalence rates of health issues, is vitally important for public health, regulatory organizations, and industry to coordinate prevention efforts.

This review found that CMV drivers have multiple risk factors (i.e., smoking, obesity, hypertension, poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep) that can lead to comorbidities (i.e., cardiovascular disorders) and adverse events (i.e., crashes and falls).