A recent article discusses a Georgia truck driver barred from driving by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) due to personal health issue. Commercial drivers with serious health issues are a major safety issue on our highways.
A recent FMCSA study of truck driver health paints a troubling picture. According to the study comparing long-haul truck drivers to other workers:
- Obesity in truck drivers is twice as high
- Morbid obesity is twice as high
- Cigarette smoking is more than double
- Self-reported diabetes is elevated
- Over twice as many truck drivers are not covered by health insurance or health care plans
- A lower percentage of drivers reported a good health status
The study discusses general health issues like obesity, hypertension, smoking and diabetes. Left unchecked and untreated, these health conditions can create significant safety issues on the highway. Commercial truck drivers must possess the alertness to observe conditions on the roadway and the physical ability to respond so that tragic crashes are avoided.
In the article, the Georgia truck driver actually falsified his medical history in order to be cleared for driving. Some cases involve drivers falsifying their medical history. Other cases involve trucking companies using doctors who ignore or neglect major problems in order to approve drivers.
In every personal injury case involving a commercial driver, we examine the health history. Sometimes, the results are very troubling. Last year, we resolved an Alabama trucking injury case where the driver had a long history of major sleep apnea creating problems with fatigue and alertness. That driver’s history was extensive. Yet, at the time of the case both the company and driver denied any health problems. The company’s doctor had routinely cleared the driver. We were able to discover the facts through investigation. And, we were able to discover records where medical professionals had expressed reservations about the driver’s ability to stay alert. Why did that trucking company allow the driver to continue operating one of its trucks? The company’s failure to act created the risk which caused our client’s permanent and disabling injuries.
That driver has since left the industry. How many other unsafe commercial truck drivers remain on Alabama roads despite major health issues?