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Study finds link between truck driver health and crash risk

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has published a study linking poor truck driver health with a higher risk for accidents. The authors concluded that even minor medical conditions can add up to endanger truck drivers. This has raised some concerns for trucking companies in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, especially regarding their medical screening processes.

Investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine analyzed the medical and crash histories of 49,464 commercial truck drivers and found that those with three or more medical conditions were involved in more incidents. The authors calculated that such drivers met with 93 crashes for every 100 million miles driven. As for relative crash risk among all drivers, it was calculated at 29 every 100 million miles.

Many obstacles prevent truck drivers from pursuing a healthy lifestyle: they sit for hours at a time, have irregular sleeping patterns and cannot go out of their way to eat nutritiously. Common conditions among drivers include heart disease, lower back pain, diabetes and sleep apnea.

While one medical condition in isolation may be manageable, the problem is when minor conditions combine to affect the driver's performance. The authors state that trucking companies make a mistake in pulling drivers only on account of major conditions and not considering the interplay between many minor conditions.

Health issues can increase driver fatigue and inattentiveness, both of which are major causes of truck accidents. If another driver is injured or dies in such an accident, the victim or the family should consider filing a claim. A lawyer will determine what damages an injury claim or wrongful death suit can bring in. The latter, for instance, may cover funeral expenses, pre-death medical bills and loss of support or consortium. The lawyer will then hire experts to investigate the accident scene and the driver's records to find proof negligence.

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