Friday, February 8, 2013

A trucker’s average lifespan is 61? What the French toast?

Did you know that, according to the Firestone Study, recreational drug users are five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim and 3.7 times more likely to be involved in workplace accidents than other workers? The statistics from that study have been the foundation of drug testing in the workplace since the ’70s. Funny thing, though. According to Time Magazine, legal columnists, investigative reporters and plenty of other credible sources – there is no Firestone Study.

The so-called “Firestone Study” has been traced back to a 1972 speech to Firestone Tire executives in which an advocate of employee assistance programs compared workers with “medical-behavioral problems” to other employees. He focused on alcoholism, mentioning illegal drugs only in passing, and he cited no research to support his seemingly precise figures.

Despite the fact that those statistics are cited all over the place and are responsible for launching thousands of drug-testing rules, there is no supporting study.

In the same vein, for years, there’s been a statistic tossed about the trucking industry that the average trucker dies at the extraordinarily young age of 61. That statistic is supposedly based on “fact” and supported by “current research” and “actual studies.” In fact, it’s mostly attributed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – which is total hooey. CDC never said that. Like the Firestone fiasco, this is not a fact.

There is no current study confirming that a trucker’s average lifespan is 61. This scary claim that many now hang their hat on can be tracked back to a single, narrowly focused study, but it’s not thorough or new enough and does not establish average life expectancy.

The life expectancy of truckers is something we simply don’t know. So let’s stop saying that.

Want my complete report? You’ll find it in the upcoming issue of Land Line, now in the mail, or in our online magazine archive.