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Truck Accident Causes Part 4: Can Health Conditions Raise the Risk of a Truck Crash?

Posted On March 20, 2017 In Truck Accidents

Can health conditions cause truck crashes?There are several health conditions that may cause commercial drivers to crash their trucks. Although multiple conditions have been identified, truckers are not always screened. Some health problems have become hotly debated topics among lawmakers and transportation safety officials. The following conditions in this blog are common among the population, including commercial truck drivers. However, some of the conditions mentioned in this blog can be screened for and are treatable. Screening for and treating these conditions may prevent commercial truck accidents.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Commercial Truck Accidents?

Last year, a study conducted by the Harvard University discovered truckers with sleep apnea had crash rates five times higher than truck drivers without the condition. This health condition causes interruptions in breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea may not realize they have the condition. They may experience excessive daytime drowsiness and difficulty concentrating. In some cases, they may doze off without warning. These are obviously a bad combination of symptoms for people driving vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and lawmakers have discussed screening commercial drivers for this condition. Sleep apnea is common among the population, but it is also treatable. If truckers were to be treated, they could decrease their risk of crashing. A “sleep apnea screening rule” is currently in limbo.

Harvard University claims 20 percent of truck accidents are caused by drowsy driving. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that causes drowsiness. It is a known public risk, yet we still do not have a screening rule!

Can Other Health Conditions Cause Truckers to Crash?

There are other conditions that may increase the risk of crashing. Another study conducted by the University of Utah School of Medicine discovered truckers with poor general health are more likely to cause accidents.

Researchers combed through the medical records of almost 50,000 truckers, and discovered drivers with conditions like heart disease, lower back pain and diabetes were more likely to crash. Drivers with all three conditions were most at-risk. Crash rates involving injury among all truck drivers was 29 per 100 million miles travelled. For those with three of the health conditions, the crash rate was 93 per 100 million miles.

Are Commercial Truckers Screened for Health Conditions?

Commercial truckers driving vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds for interstate commerce must undergo Department of Transportation health exams, as there are some conditions that disqualify drivers. After passing the examination, truckers receive a medical certification that remains valid for two years. Driver qualification files (also called DQ files) contain the health records of truckers. Trucking companies may request these files before hiring drivers.

There are some cases where trucking should or are required to request truckers to obtain new medical certificates. As we know, trucking companies do not always comply with federal or state regulations. People injured in truck accidents, or their family members should consult with an attorney to explore possible legal options against trucking companies.

The Texas truck accident attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC are dedicated to helping people harmed by negligent business practices.

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