Drivers may suffer from
(a) Neck and back pain due to prolonged sitting; wrong arrangement of seat. Poor ergonomics and posture during sitting, place great deal of pressure on the spine and lead to neck and back pain.
(b) Risk of increasing blood pressure; while negotiating city traffic, stress hormones release in the body and increase blood pressure. Many years of driving is a definite risk for Hypertension
(c) Exposure to pollution: Hyderabad has high degree of chemical, noise and suspended dust. Regular drivers get exposed these pollutants and accumulate the effects of these pollutants. Even in A/C cars, some amounts of chemical gases enter and get recycled within the car.
(d) Two wheeler-drivers have high risk of corneal (dryness of Eye) disease because of sand and dust particles hitting the eye. Risk of accidents due to cell phone use, while driving is inescapable.
(e) Vascular Problems: This is due to stagnation of blood in the lower limbs with increased risk for clogging in the blood vessels-Disseminated vascular thrombosis; however this is more common in the travellers than drivers.
(f) Benzene exposure: Benzene is the most well known cancerogenic chemical and widely available. In the cars, the upholstery materials like seat covers, mats, chemical coating on the interiors all can produce some amount of volatile benzene. This is more in hot weather and more in closed cars; A/C in the vehicles can recycle this benzene and keep it inside the car for longer time. The accumulation of benzene concentration may go as high 200mg/L which is 20 times more than the acceptable levels.
(g) Risk of Urine infection: This may occur over a period of time due to traffic jams, bunds, strikes etc. Prolonged holding of urine in the bladder leads to increased risk of infection as well as gradual damage to wall of the bladder.
Q2. What precautions driver should undertake?
1. Professional drivers should break their sitting whenever there is a chance. e.g.: avoid sitting in a parked car.
2. They should learn some exercises for neck and the back to avoid occupational neck and back pain.
3. They should understand how to sit in a driver’s seat e.g. back rest should be 90 to 100 degrees, knee bending should be 90 to 100 degrees and elbow should be bend while holding the steering. While getting in to the car and while getting out of the car, first turn the body and enter or come out.
4. They should carry adequate back-up such as
(a) Fully charged cell phone
(b) Drinking water
(c) Food pack
(d) Disposable urine bottle (suitable for aged drivers who may have prostate problems).
(e) Adequate fuel and good condition of the vehicle. These things will help the drivers when they get struck in traffic jam for a long time.
(f) Time management is important so that you avoid travelling in rush hours.
(g) Two-wheelers drivers must wear helmets which not only save them from injury but helps them to avoid neck strain.
(i) Keep the window glasses rolled down before you start car;
keep the A/C vent open for some time before you start your
car. This will help to remove benzene from your car.
Q3. Do they need any medical checks?
1. Firstly, please check your blood pressure; it should be well within normal range (120/80 or less) with or without medication.
2. Your vision should be good and do keep a spare set of spectacles in your car.
3. You should also know your Blood Sugars; they should not be too high or too low because you may get giddiness and could be dangerous for you and others.
4. Maintain good healthy habits; avoid smoking, avoid driving when you are drunk, do regular exercise, maintain timely diet and the most important to have adequate sleep.
5. Care for your vehicle, yourself and others.
Have Blessings: Earn Life
Wish You Happy New Year-2010
-----------------------Dr S Bakhtiar Choudhary