Should Body Mass Index Be Enforced In The Trucking Industry?

by Carl (American Trucker)

American Trucker

American Trucker

Should Body Mass Index Be Enforced In The Trucking Industry?

Posted by Carl Smith (American Trucker) on 21 January 2010, 10:41 am
There is always a healthy debate that ensues when people begin considering whether or not new laws should be enforced in the trucking industry. But the debate tends to take on a more robust tone, and sometimes becomes borderline riotous, when the idea of enforcing personal lifestyle choices on drivers becomes the topic of debate.

There are a number of trucking companies that have begun to enforce weight restrictions as a hiring criteria in recent years and I believe we’re going to hear a lot more about this in years to come, especially if the economy remains below par and the standard requirements for truck driving jobs remains higher than it has been in the past.

The question is, should body mass index be allowed to be criteria for hiring?

What Is Body Mass Index?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is beginning to be enforced in truck driving
According to the Nutrition data glossary:
“Body Mass Index is a standardized ratio of weight to height, and is often used as a general indicator of health. Your BMI can be calculated by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in meters).

A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal for most adults. Higher BMIs may indicate that an individual is overweight or obese”
In basic terms, it’s an approximation of how much you should weigh based on your height.

Why Would Trucking Companies Enforce This?

Trucking companies are generally looking to find qualified drivers that strike a balance between safety and cost. In other words, they’re not willing to pay a safe, experienced driver tons and tons of money, but they also can’t afford to put drivers out on the highway that have proven to be unsafe just to save a buck on payroll.

Profit margins are very tight in the trucking industry and the reality is you have to find a way to turn a profit. Unfortunately, some level of compromise is necessary to achieve this.

A driver’s ability to make safe and responsible decisions is absolutely paramount in the trucking industry and companies are always trying to find new ways of determining whether or not they can trust someone to make the right decisions when they’re out on the road. Checking a person’s credit score is one way in recent years that companies have tried to determine the character of an individual.

Body mass index is becoming another way for trucking companies to attempt to judge the character of a driver, try to reduce their costs, and increase their efficiency. Generally speaking, and this is where people are going to freak; they’ve determined that people who are quite obese do not have the self-discipline, attention to detail, ability to make prudent decisions, or energy level that someone who takes better care of themselves would have. The image they portray of their company and the higher costs of healthcare associated with their level of fitness is also a detriment to the company.

Is Enforcing Body Mass Index Limits Discrimination?

First, the definition of discrimination from Wikipedia:
“Discrimination toward or against a person of a certain group is the treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit”
This is one of the arguments people will make against enforcing such rules. They say you can’t discriminate based on sex or race, so you shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on somebody’s weight. I would agree with this assertion if a person being significantly overweight:
* Had no effect on the ability for them to perform their job as well as someone who is in good shape
* Posed no additional risk to those around them when compared with someone who is in good shape
* Posed no additional costs upon their company compared with someone who is in good shape

I think you’ll find
it quite difficult, or nearly impossible, to make those arguments stick – the evidence clearly points to the contrary.
I would also argue that if people believe being morbidly obese is a personal choice and they should have the ability to make that choice for themselves, then why wouldn’t a trucking company be given the equal right to hire the people they believe will give them the best chance for success?

If a company can prove that hiring drivers who are morbidly obese will negatively impact the company, they should have the right to refuse hiring that person based on that factor alone.

It has not been proven that an employee’s race or sex will have a negative impact on a company or on an employee’s performance of the job, therefore neither are allowed to be a hiring criteria.

How Heavy Is Too Heavy?

Make no mistake about it, companies are not talking about forcing everyone to become lean and mean. Not even close. They’re basically talking about eliminating those that most would consider “morbidly obese”. In other words, we’re not talking about an extra forty or fifty pounds, were generally talking more like an extra hundred pounds or so.

A current example would be from Prime Inc. where the maximum BMI is 39, which means someone who is 5′ 7″ can weigh up to 250 pounds. The “ideal weight” they list for 5′ 7″ is about 150 pounds.
Should The FMCSA Be Allowed To Enforce BMI Standards?

As you can see, I clearly believe that body mass index should indeed be allowed to be a factor in whether or not a company chooses to hire an individual. The question for me now becomes “Should the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier’s Safety Administration) or other government agency be allowed to enforce body mass index standards on the entire trucking industry?”

In my opinion the government should not be the one to enforce these standards on the industry. I feel the companies should be allowed to enforce their own standards on this issue as they see fit. The main reason I feel this way is because the trucking industry is incredibly dynamic.

Small changes to the economy can have a massive effect on how many drivers are available for hire. A strong, fast economy can cause a tremendous shortage of drivers, and a big downturn like the one we’re facing now can cause a large surplus of drivers in the industry.
Not only are there large swings in driver availability based on the economy in general, but the ever-changing circumstances within each company can create a large demand for new drivers, or the need to sharply decrease the size of the fleet by letting some drivers go. Swings in the economy, changes by a competing company, the gain or loss of customers, an economic crisis within a company, and a whole range of other factors can have a large effect on the driver requirements within any individual company.

I feel trucking companies are held responsible for their safety by FMCSA enforcement, including the new CSA 2010 Program getting ready to take effect, local law enforcement authorities, and our judicial system. Trucking companies need to retain the flexibility needed to employ higher hiring standards when they have a surplus of drivers available, and lower their standards a bit when a sudden need for drivers arises.

I also feel the Driver is primarily responsible for them. And I tell many of my students that they come first so be healthy.

Drivers please be safe out there and thank you for your ongoing support.

Be sure to tune into Rollye James show for my on air discussion.1/23/2010 If you're an XM subscriber...
We're on Channel 158
LIVE Monday through Friday 10 PM - 1 AM Eastern / 7 PM - 10 PM Pacific
(Replayed overnight, every night till 5 AM Eastern / 2 AM Pacific)

Any Comments or concerns please contact me
Carl Smith
American Trucker –

Comments for Should Body Mass Index Be Enforced In The Trucking Industry?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jul 15, 2010
My Book
by: American Trucker

Part One of my book is online.
This covers a good deal of what were talking about.

Feel free to stop in and read.

Jul 14, 2010
Not necessarily but there has to be some measure used.
by: Hervy

If they are going to have some line drawn it has to be one that is universal and in stone so I guess that is why they will use BMI.

Truth be told the BMI isn't supposed to be used within such strict parameters, should only be a guideline because certain body types can be outside of the BMI chart and perfectly healthy at the same time.

Maintaining health IS definitely important though. That is why I have been talking about it from day one. On every CD and DVD I make (and a high percentage of the videos) I talk about the importance of dieting and exercise.

Makes perfect sense that it would eventually be taken serious enough for government to jump in because people won't take the initiative to do it themselves and its a shame because it is in their best interest.

But it's also in everyone else's best interest because you can be at 100 percent if you are constant doing things to deteriorate your health.

It isn't the truck stops, or restaurants responsibility to provide convenience for us to achieve better habits either. (healthier food or equipment)

We can bring food with us. I do it every day. and you don't have to have a gym or equipment to get exercise.

If there was a gym or other equipment there would just be another excuse to keep from doing it.

Bottom line, if you want to eat healthier and if you want to get exercise, you can do it.

It's simply a matter of choice and discipline.

I really hope people will start choosing to get it in gear and make healthier choices because its a sad to see the pain, suffering and financial loss it eventually causes to not do so.

It's a shame the government has to corner us into making better choices to make our own lives better.

Way to get em stirred up American Trucker! LOL

Now speak about parking. I saw someone say something about parking accommodations.

Many times I try to pull over and can't find one so I know the feeling.

However, I can also imagine the feeling of property owners when they DO allow us to park only to find out a bunch of clown were so appreciative that they threw piss bottles all over the place.

These are discussions that must be had before real complaints about property owners not allowing us to park can be serious entertained because I can see why many of them don't.

We need to clean up our act if we want people to cater more to our needs and show us a little more courtesy and respect.

We need to step it up a notch ourselves and maybe the public, shippers, receivers, property owners, and our own companies would step it up too.

Just some food for thought.

Great thread!

Jul 05, 2010
Rhae and Fayes Mom
by: American Trucker

You are right I wont disagree with you here. And the govt in away has tried to help by limiting times drivers should be sitting at shippers/Congs. But is it effective nooooooooo.The only way any driver is gonna be able to change enough to keep up with BMI is to take the time. The reason behind all this is to weed out the older drivers.Make room for the new age drive that is more healthy focused and environmentally focused.In other parts of the world this is already in effect and has been for years. So a lot of us knew for sometime it was coming. So all the driver is left to do is adapt as we have learned to do for along time now.
Tell your team driver's American Trucker says Be Safe and Enjoy Life on road,Love your Family.Maybe i will see them someday and lunch will be on me. feel free to stop in say hi.

Hammer Down
American Trucker

Jul 05, 2010
RE: American Trucker
by: Rhae and Fayes Mom

I'm just the fiancee of a trucker, he drives teams so they don't allow passangers. He has a dedicated run from middle tn to ca then hit's 10 to fl. Big trucking companies may have these options @ they're terminals but nothing for the small companies/ownder operators. Honestly they have 5 days to drive approx 5,000 miles(+/-) in a 60mph truck so honestly they don't even have the time option to even have a decent set down meal much less time to work out. (on the off chance a gym was available somewhere out there.) Either way, to make a point regardless of the excuses the government/company has it still has no right to descriminate based on size! the only meritt they should go on is work history! NOT THE CLOTHING SIZE!

Jul 04, 2010
BS Rae&Fae
by: American Trucker

Yes i have seen truckstops with gyms in them,and more an more are doing it so do 90% of trucking companies.You should travel more there are alot of places going healthy.

thank you.

Jul 01, 2010
B.M.I. reply:
by: Eugene

Hello; I have read your comments about the B.M.I., and I must say that I found it to be quite enlightening. You have even managed to provide some view points that I have not considered before. Bottom line is very simple; I think if a driver is to be judged as to his or her abilities when it comes to the safe operation of a truck, then it should be left up to each particular company to make that determination. After all, who is it that we are driving for? Is it the federal government? Or is it the trucking companies that sign the pay checks?

Also, I believe that Prime Inc. has removed the B.M.I. requirements from their website. I have not been able to locate that particular reference anywhere within their web page. I do know exactly what you are referring to; I have read it myself. But as I said, I have not been able to find it anywhere in Prime’s site for the last couple of months.

I thank you for comments; I found them to be informative and accurate.

Jul 01, 2010
the biggest b.s.
by: Rhae&FayesMom

I definately don't agree with it. If they want truckers to live healthy then how about giving them a helping hand. Ever see a truck stop with a gym in it? How about trucking companies use trucks with more fridge space and an alternative between processed microwave foods and fast food as meal resorts. Force resteraunts near interstates provide adequate parking space for trucks n healthier choices? They have no interast in helping truckers stay fit and healthy, why punish them for options that aren't offered to them??????

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Speak Your Mind, Vent, Unwind, Get It Off Your Chest.