Poor health linked to increased rate of truck accidents

Spending endless hours behind the wheel of a semi-tractor trailer and eating at truck stops and rest areas makes maintaining good health difficult for truck drivers in West Virginia and around the country. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported in 2014 that long-haul truck drivers smoke cigarettes and suffer from conditions like diabetes and obesity at rates that are more than double those found in the general population, and a report released on Jan. 10 by the University of Utah School of Medicine has linked poor health among commercial vehicle operators with significantly higher accident rates.

The research, which was published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, was based on the study of nearly 50,000 truck drivers. The researchers looked at the medical histories of the drivers, and they then checked their driving records to find out how their physical and psychological ailments affected their on-the-job performance.

The researchers paid particular attention to conditions like lower back pain and hypertension that could make operating commercial trucks more difficult, and they discovered that drivers who suffered from three or more of these conditions were involved in far more accidents. The overall accident rate for truck drivers is 29 crashes for each 100,000 miles of travel, but that figure soars to 93 accidents for every 100,000 miles among truck drivers with a combination of serious medial conditions.

Preparing truck accident lawsuits involves scrutinizing accident investigation reports, and experienced personal injury attorneys may also check the medical histories of the drivers involved. Truck drivers act negligently when they get behind the wheel while impaired by drugs or alcohol, fatigue or debilitating medical conditions, and trucking companies may face litigation if they do not take all reasonable steps to ensure that their drivers are physically capable of handling a large commercial vehicle safely.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, "National Survey of Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury", Office of Research and Information Technology, Jan. 14, 2014

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