Truck drivers in California and around the country increase their risk for accidents the more medical conditions they have. This is according to a study conducted by University of Utah School of Medicine researchers. Analyzing the medical records and crash histories of 49,464 commercial truck drivers, the study claims that 34 percent have medical conditions that have been connected in the past with poor driving performance.
Many of these situations were crashes resulting in injuries. For every 100 million miles, there was an average of 29 such crashes, and among drivers with three or more medical conditions, the number rose to 93. Factors like age and driving experience did not alter the trend.
It’s understandable that truckers tend to develop more health-related concerns, as their occupation forces them to sit for long hours, have irregular sleep cycles, and eat where it’s most convenient, not where it’s healthiest. Common conditions include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and lower back pain.
Part of the blame, the authors believe, lies in current commercial motor vehicle guidelines. Truckers are often pulled out of service for having one major medical condition but not for several minor ones. What many employers don’t understand is that even minor conditions can work in concert to worsen driver performance.
This partly explains the prevalence of 18-wheeler auto accidents. However, victims of such accidents can always turn to an attorney for help. If a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, for example, the responsibility could lie with the trucking company which may have discouraged its driver from taking the prescribed number of breaks in order to make a delivery on time.