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Minor health conditions may still put truck drivers at risk

In West Virginia and across the U.S., many truck drivers are endangering themselves and others because of certain medical conditions. While trucking companies may pull a driver after diagnosing a major condition, they are liable to ignore the interplay between multiple conditions.

This was the conclusion of a study made by investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine. The authors analyzed the medical and crash records of 49,464 commercial truck drivers and found that those with three or more medical conditions, be they anxiety or high blood pressure or heart disease, doubled and sometimes quadrupled their chances of being in a crash.

A total of 82 drivers were placed in the highest risk group while 34 percent had at least one health condition deserving of concern. On average, the analyzed drivers had 29 crashes resulting in injury for every 100 million miles they drove. Among those with three or more ailments, the number rose to 93 crashes. Factors like age and trucking experience were taken into account but did not affect the trend.

Truck drivers sit for long hours, have little opportunity to eat healthy and tend to sleep little. Conditions like sleep apnea will also increase driver fatigue. For these reasons, the authors state that further investigation into the link between poor health and crash risk is necessary.

Truck accidents can be caused by fatigue, inattention, distraction or even heart attacks. In each case, the degree to which the driver is at fault must be measured. An accident victim can leave this to a lawyer, who will most likely hire investigators to obtain proof of negligence. The process may involve accident reconstruction as well as an investigation into the trucking company's records. The lawyer could also factor in any contributory negligence. For example, the victim may have been speeding or following too close to the truck.

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