Long-Haul Truck Drivers with Serious Health Issues are a Hazard on the Road
The potential damage that can be done by a heavy truck, such as an 18-wheeler or semi-truck, means that driving one should be a responsibility limited only to those willing to comply with the rules. In fact, federal law carefully regulates the business of long-haul commercial truck driving, including regulations on the physical well-being and mental acuity of those doing the driving. While all drivers are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) to undergo medical examinations prior to receiving a commercial driver’s license (CDL), these examinations do not appear to be weeding out all those drivers with health problems that could make them dangerous on the road.
One major problem with the current medical examination system is the reliance on the self-reporting of health issues. FMCSA regulations currently state that those with certain health conditions such as vision impairment, hearing impairment, severe sleep apnea, neurological disorders, heart disease, or certain forms of arthritis that could impair the ability to drive should not be granted a CDL. However, many of these conditions do not manifest themselves on a physical examination, and thus must be disclosed by the applying driver in order for the physician to be aware of them. Naturally, there is little motivation for a driver to disclose that they may have a health problem that would disqualify them from the job for which they’re applying. This can result in dangerously-impaired drivers obtaining licenses.
Another serious problem facing the trucking industry is that the health of truckers is on average much worse than that of an average American. Studies conducted by the FMCSA in concert with the Centers for Disease Control have shown that, as compared to an average person, truck drivers are twice as likely to be overweight, twice as likely to be morbidly obese, and twice as likely to be a smoker. They are also much less likely than average to receive a restful eight hours’ sleep, and have twice as high a rate of self-reported diabetes. All these factors can contribute to heart disease, stroke, and chronic fatigue, which could render a driver unconscious behind the wheel. Nevertheless, many of these drivers with serious health concerns are permitted to retain their CDLs.
If you need legal assistance in filing a claim for compensation after you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident in Virginia, contact the compassionate and determined Charlottesville personal injury attorneys at Buck, Toscano, & Tereskerz for a free consultation, at 434-977-7977.