Poor Truck Driver Health Can Mean a Higher Risk of Truck Accidents

Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer

The cause of many truck accidents is negligence on the part of the truck drivers. This negligence can take many forms, such as engaging in distracted driving behaviors and speeding. However, there are also health risks that truck drivers face that increase their risk of crashing dramatically. These risks increase even more if a truck driver is dealing with multiple health issues.

According to a major study conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine,  commercial truck drivers with three or more medical conditions have double to quadruple the risk of being in a crash compared to healthier drivers.

Study Details

Researchers examined the medical records of 49,464 commercial truck drivers and found that 35 percent of those drivers showed signs of at least one of several health conditions that had previously been linked to poor driving performance. These conditions included diabetes, heart disease, and lower back pain.

When the medical histories were matched with each driver’s driving record, the data revealed that at least three of the flagged conditions were present in drivers involved in truck accidents. Researchers found that this group of drivers was at a higher risk in multiple categories of crashes, including those that could have been avoided and those that caused injuries.

The overall rate of accidents for all the drivers in the study was 29 per 100 million miles, however, the rate for those drivers with three or more health conditions spiked to 93 per 100 million. This rate stayed consistent even when researchers considered other potential contributing factors, such as the driver’s age and amount of commercial driving experience.

Health Issues

Because the job of driving a truck is so sedentary, many truck drivers end up with health issues because of the long hours they spend just sitting and driving. Even once they reach their delivery destination, the long hours they have spent driving often leave little time for exercise. Travel on the road also means little opportunity for healthy meals and many drivers end up eating high-calorie meals offered in restaurants and processed foods served by fast-food establishments. Other issues can include:

  • Exposure to diesel fumes from the vehicles they drive can cause lung problems and other respiratory issues
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals they may be transporting
  • Fatigue
  • Higher risk of depression caused by long periods of isolation on the road
  • Higher risk of drug dependency, especially stimulants to help them stay awake
  • Injuries from loading and unloading heavy cargo
  • Smoking

Some of the common health issues that truck drivers suffer from are:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stress

Sleep Deprivation

Lack of sleep is one of the most dangerous factors associated with long-distance trucking. Because they are often on the road for hours on end, many truck drivers develop irregular sleep patterns due to all the schedule changes they are forced to adhere to. Many truck drivers end up sleeping in their trucks, which doesn’t provide the most optimum of circumstances for good sleep.

And despite federal regulations that mandate how many hours a truck driver is allowed to be on the road and how many hours of rest time they must take, many drivers ignore those rules because of the pressure that trucking companies put on them to meet unrealistic delivery schedules. This leads to many drivers suffering from chronic fatigue. A drowsy truck driver is just as dangerous as a drunk truck driver.

Contact a Va. Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent or reckless truck driver, contact a dedicated Virginia truck accident attorney. As mentioned above, truck accidents can be more complex than other types of motor vehicle accidents because depending on the circumstances of the crash, there may be multiple parties who are liable for a victim’s injuries.

Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has successfully represented many clients who were injured in truck accidents and will use all available resources to aggressively advocate for you and your family in obtaining the financial compensation you deserve.