Sizing Up Truckers To Make Safer, More Ergonomic Cabs

A study to analyze the “human bodies” of truck drivers was recently conducted by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The “Anthropometric Study of U.S. Truck Drivers,” as it was officially called, measured truck drivers because up-to-date anthropometric data, which plays an “important role in improving ergonomic design of truck cabs…has not been collected for decades.” According to the findings of the online report, knowing the average size of truck drivers will help engineers improve cab design features and reduce work-related highway incidents.

The study, initiated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), lasted for four years. During that time, information on 1,779 males and 171 female truck drivers was collected at 16 different locations in 15 states across the United States. Truck drivers were measured at places like the Mid-America Truck Show, the Great American Truck Show, and the Great West Truck Show. Only those with a valid Class A CDL were allowed to participate.

Findings revealed male truck drivers tend to be larger in body width and girth when compared to the general male population. A comparison of women truck drivers showed they were about the same size as the regular work population, but the sample size for women truck drivers was very small. Because of that, results may be somewhat inconclusive. Measurements from both men and women truck drivers, however, were utilized to construct “preferred body models” for women and men truck drivers that would be suitable to use in the design of new ergonomic truck cabs.

The study examined the way truck drivers sit, including measurements for things like sitting height, elbow rest height, buttock-knee height, thigh clearance, eye height and more. They also looked at the average hand size, shoe length, and shoe width. Information on age, sex, and race was also examined.

After the research was conducted, a total of 15 body models for both male and female truck drivers were constructed. Each model represented a unique type of body. As noted in the study, the use of these models will help to benefit the design of the “next-generation truck cabs.” The body models designed from the truck drivers, they say, comfortably represents about 95 percent of the trucking population. For those that fall outside the 95 percent margin, customized options may be more of a long term consideration.

Through the help of the research, it was determined that truck drivers as a group are not the same as models from the general population. Further, male truck drivers, on average, are a unique type of group in regard to size specifications. With that said, next generation truck cabs should not rely on data that is not specific to those who actually work in trucking. Otherwise, truckers will be driving cabs that were designed from a model that does not represent their true body characteristics as a group.

With the help of this research and thanks to the new data on size, truck cabs in the future should be closer to a custom fit, more comfortable, and definitely safer for truckers in general. Read more about the findings here:

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Millis Transfer, Getting It There Since 1936, has an impressive service record earning the company dozens of “Carrier of the Year” awards. Headquartered in Black River Falls, Wis., Millis is also a Certified Top Pay Carrier with some of the best equipment on the road. Maintenance facilities and drop yards are strategically located throughout the company’s operating area. Its sister company, Millis Training Institute, offers five school locations that provide students with quality training in order to earn their CDL-A license. For more information, please visit, or call 1-800-937-0880.

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