Medically Unfit Truck Drivers

Man Driving In Truck

Among the federal government’s chief transportation safety concerns is the health of trucker drivers.  What is being done – and what’s not being done – to help ensure that truckers who have medical issues are kept off the road?

The National Transportation Safety Board publishes an annual “Most Wanted List” of its top safety advocacy priorities.  The NTSB’s Most Wanted List for 2017-2018 includes requiring the medical fitness of truck drivers and reducing fatigue-related truck crashes.

Tired Truck Drivers and Fatal Accidents

Over-the-road truck drivers generally are paid by the mile.  This means that truck drivers may ignore rest to maximize the miles on the books.  The danger is obvious: Numerous studies and crash investigations have shown that tired truckers can cause fatal accidents.

The federal government in 2013 issued new Hours of Service Rules, which limited how many hours per week truckers could be on the road.  The rules also had mandatory rest periods during the work week.  In 2017, the rules were revised and the requirement that truckers had to rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. was dropped.

So how do we know if truck drivers are getting the proper rest? Beginning in December 2017, most commercial truckers now must record their driving and rest hours in electronic devices. Truckers previously logged their working hours into books.  But such paper records could easily be manipulated by truck drivers and truck companies seeking to skirt regulations.

Long haul trucking is largely a sedentary profession.  Hours spent behind the wheel can take its toll on a person’s weight.  Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that predominantly affects obese individuals.  Those who have sleep apnea usually suffer from a poor night’s sleep, waking up several times.  They therefore can be tired during the day.

Truckers with Sleep Apnea

In August 2017, the federal government announced it would not screen truck drivers for sleep apnea, despite an earlier decision to implement a new sleep apnea rule. The rule would have established proactive industry-wide protocols as to when drivers would be tested for the sleep-deprived condition.

All of these safety regulations were designed to protect the driving public from tired and medically unfit truck drivers.  And all were opposed by trucking concerns, a clear indicator that they are more focused on their bottom lines than with public safety.

If you have lost a family member or you were critically hurt in an accident involving a commercial truck, speak with a truck accident attorney, who can investigate and hold accountable all those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog January 24, 2018