Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC A Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

Study: Truckers' poor health elevates accident risk

Ask anyone who currently works as a long-distance commercial truck driver or who has previously held this position about the physical demands of the job, and they will more than likely have much to share with you.

The simple reality is that the tight delivery deadlines, long hours behind the wheel, unrelenting work schedule, deficient sleeping conditions and dearth of nutritious meal choices can all take a very real toll on a trucker's health very quickly. Indeed, it's not uncommon for truckers to develop major health issues or a host of minor ones.

Interestingly enough, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine recently published a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine examining the degree to which U.S. truckers are suffering from medical maladies that not only but themselves, but their fellow motorists at risk.

As part of their research, the study authors first analyzed the medical records of 49,464 commercial truckers and then proceeded to cross-reference them with crash records. Based on this complex analysis, they determined the following:  

  • 34 percent of truckers showed symptoms of having one of several medical conditions that previous research has linked to substandard driving performance, such as diabetes, lower back pain and heart disease.
  • The rate of crashes resulting in injuries was 29 per 100 million miles traveled among all truckers, but rose to 93 per 100 million miles traveled among truckers with three or more minor medical conditions; This result held true even when things like driving experience and age were factored into the analysis.

According to the researchers, these findings are problematic, as they highlight how even though federal commercial motor vehicle regulations call for truckers with certain major health issues to be pulled from the road, they say nothing about those truckers suffering from a series of minor ailments that together can take a similar -- or even more severe -- toll on the human body.    

"Right now, conditions are thought of in isolation,” said one of the study authors of federal regulations. “There’s no guidance for looking at multiple conditions in concert.”

Here's hoping that federal regulators take note of this study and also take the necessary action, as it's both truckers and their fellow motorists who are in very real danger.

If you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by the recklessness of a trucker, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can help you pursue both justice and peace of mind.

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