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Study shows truck crashes are often tied to poor driver health

Researchers recently completed a study analyzing the crash history and medical records of 49,464 commercial truck drivers. Their results, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, show that many drivers in Missouri and across the U.S. suffer from health conditions that can lead to accidents.

Of the analyzed drivers, 34 percent had one or more medical conditions that were to blame for poor driving performance in the past. A total of 82 drivers were placed in a high-risk group. The researchers estimated the number of crashes among all drivers to be 29 for every 100 million miles driven. However, the number tripled to 93 crashes for drivers with three or more medical conditions.

Age and driving experience have no noticeable influence on the trend. Truck drivers are known to develop conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and lower back pain because of their lifestyle, which is often characterized by prolonged sitting, irregular sleeping patterns, and difficulty finding places to eat healthy. The problem, the authors of the study believe, is that companies isolate each condition when screening drivers and do not consider how multiple conditions work together to impair health.

This study points out another way that trucking companies could be held liable for certain car accidents. If someone is injured by a trucker who had a medical episode, then he or she may have the grounds to pursue an injury claim. A lawyer could help by determining the degree to which the driver, the company and even the victim is at fault.