Truck Drivers With Medical Issues – a Dangerous Combination
Certain individuals do not have the ability to maintain a driver’s license due to certain health issues. For example, people who are prone to sudden seizures, have cognitive deficiencies, or have vision impairments are not considered safe to drive. Because driving a commercial truck can be significantly more dangerous than a small passenger vehicle, the health standards to receive a commercial driver’s license are quite strict.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates who can receive a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In addition to passing written and driving skills tests, an applicant for a new or renewed license must also undergo a medical examination. This exam must be conducted by a certified medical examiner who is registered with the FMCSA and who understands the health requirements for commercial drivers. If a medical examiner signs off on a candidate, they are generally considered healthy enough to drive a commercial vehicle until it is time for another exam.
What happens, however, if a driver develops or becomes aware of a medical condition in between required examinations? If they report certain medical issues to their employers, they may risk losing their CDL, which often means losing their livelihood. All too frequently, commercial drivers may remain quiet and continue to drive giant big rigs, while knowing their health poses a danger to others. Medical issues that may cause a commercial driver to lose control and cause an accident include:
- Sleep disorders – Every truck driver should comply with the FMCSA hours of service restrictions to prevent fatigued driving. However, despite following the restrictions, some drivers may find themselves excessively tired during their shifts – even during the daytime. Often, such fatigue is the result of an undiagnosed or otherwise untreated sleep disorder. Common sleep disorders include narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome, which can interfere with getting adequate sleep and cause dangerous fatigue for truck drivers.
- Arthritis – There are different varieties of arthritis, which causes pain, weakness, and inflammation of the joints. Joint weakness or pain can make it difficult to turn a heavy truck wheel, shift gears, or hit the brakes with agility. While arthritis can often be managed with medication, too many truck drivers do not want to report that they are having any issues that could cost them their license, so they continue to struggle with arthritis pain.
- Mental illness and impaired driving – Truckers spend long hours alone on monotonous routes. In some situations, this can lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental conditions. Not only can mental illness cause a driver to lose focus or exercise poor judgment, truck drivers may be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs that impair their ability to drive.
Consult With a San Antonio Truck Accident Attorney for Free Today
These are only some of the common health issues that increase a truck driver’s risk of causing an accident, which all too often causes serious injuries to other motorists. The Law Offices of George Salinas works to hold negligent parties liable for the injuries and losses incurred by the victims of trucking accidents. If you have been injured in an accident involving a truck driver, please call 210-225-0909 or contact us online today for more information.