Unhealthy Truckers are Unsafe Truckers

The fitness of truck drivers as well as the quality of medical professionals who gauge their fitness has recently been called into question.

Previous research identified that long-haul truck drivers are almost twice as likely to be obese compared to the rest of the adult population.  They also are more likely to smoke and suffer from other risk factors that lead to serious and chronic disease.

This is important for several reasons.

First, obese individuals are prone to sleep apnea, a disorder that disrupts sleep and therefore leaves a person very tired the next day.  So truckers who are fatigued from sleep apnea but driving on the highway may not be as alert as they should be to handle the job’s responsibilities.

Unhealthy Truckers More Likely to Crash

Second, previous research shows that truck drivers who have several medical conditions greatly up their chances for crashing their rigs compared to more healthy truckers.  The risk for unhealthy truckers to crash increases by as much as four times.

Federal law requires over-the-road truckers who operate big rigs weighing over 10,000 pounds to undergo a physical examination.  If passed, a trucker’s medical certificate is good for two years.

In 2014, the federal government developed a national registry of health examiners to do the trucker health screening.  Only physicians approved by the federal government can now provide the requisite medical certificates.   In 2015, the federal government developed new criteria for the health exams.  Sleep apnea was a new condition that truckers were to be screened for.

The trucking industry opposed both the national registry of health examiners and the new sleep apnea screening.

Questions over Quality of Truck Driver Medical Exams

Now the trucking industry questions that quality of the driver physical exams.  A new survey of truckers, performed by the American Transportation Research Institute, reports that a majority of the drivers say the quality of the exams has not increased since the implementation of the registry.  This could be a renewed effort to end the registry or a valid issue to investigate further.

The drivers also complained about delays in getting their medical certificates.  However, most of the delays were apparently due to more testing ordered by the examiners.

Trucking companies have the responsibility to ensure they’re putting healthy truckers on the road.  When they don’t, as previous evidence has shown, they negligently place others in peril.

If you were seriously injured or had a family member die in a crash involving a commercial truck, a truck accident attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to determine all causes and all those who are responsible for your loss.

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

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog on May 12. 2017