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Truck Driver Medical Issues Lead to Accidents

Published: Jan 3, 2019 in Auto Accident, Personal Injury, Truck Accident

St. Clair County truck accident lawyers advocate for victims of accidents due to trucker medical issues.Truck driving is a dangerous profession in more ways than one. Truck drivers control heavy machinery at high speeds for extended periods of time. A brief lapse in judgement or attention can cause a serious or even fatal truck accident. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that truck drivers are in about 250,000 crashes every year, with one to two percent resulting in fatalities.

Commercial Truck Driver Licensing Requirements

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets standards for commercial truck drivers. Truck drivers must be medically certified as physically qualified to operate a truck and have a valid commercial driver’s license. For a person to be physically qualified to drive a truck, they must be free of several serious conditions and impairments, including:

  • A history of drug abuse
  • Seizure disorders
  • Certain vision impairments and hearing loss
  • Mental disorders, including depression
  • Heart disease and related disorders

Some drivers that are unqualified due to their health condition have managed to get physicians to falsify their certifications. The FMCSA has now established a list of approved medical providers to perform the certifications to address this concern. Drivers must use one of the approved providers when being medically certified.

What is the Risk?

Truckers spend long hours focused on the road where they barely move. They are away from home for extended periods and resort to fast-food for meals, which are often filled with empty calories. These challenges may be putting truckers’ health at risk.

A recent study looked at almost 50,000 truckers’ medical records and found that 34 percent had signs of at least one medical condition associated with impairment of driving skills. Researchers compared these drivers’ medical histories to their crash records and discovered that drivers having at least three of these targeted medical conditions were more likely to be involved in an accident. They were also at a higher risk for accidents that could have been prevented as well as accidents that caused injury.

Truck drivers are involved in accidents at a rate of about 29 crashes for each 100 million miles traveled. However, the drivers with three or more of the targeted medical conditions were involved in accidents at a rate of about 93 crashes for each 100 million miles traveled. This difference held up even after other factors, including age and commercial driving experience, were considered. The conclusion drawn from the study is that poor health increases crash risk.

The FMCSA disqualifies people from trucking who have certain serious medical conditions. However, there are no restrictions on drivers who have more than one less serious medical condition, even if these conditions can impair driving skills. So, a driver who is legitimately medically certified, but who has a series of other conditions, could be driving while at an elevated risk of crashing. Unfortunately, this elevated risk is shared by others also on the road.

St. Clair County Truck Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Advocate for Victims of Truck Accidents

Drivers who are intoxicated, distracted, or otherwise impaired, put all drivers at risk. We have extensive experience dealing with motor vehicle claims throughout Illinois. If you have been involved in an accident involving a truck or another driver, contact one of our experienced St. Clair truck accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC. Let us evaluate your case and assist you in recovering damages. We can be reached at 618-277-3644 or you can contact us online. Our Swansea, Illinois office represents clients from the surrounding areas, including Belleville and Edwardsville.