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Study: Trucking Accidents Linked to Drivers’ Poor Health

by John Gomez | Last Updated: January 23, 2017
Trucking Accidents

There are many reasons to live a healthy lifestyle.  For some people, doing so is more difficult than for others.  One profession where eating a healthy diet, exercising properly and getting regular, solid sleep is a challenge is truck driving.  Life on the road can not only be lonely, but it can be harmful to a person’s overall health.

Unfortunately, based on the results of a recent study, truck drivers who are in poor health present not only a danger to themselves, but also to others.  This is because the researchers in the study concluded that drivers with certain ailments are more likely to be involved in trucking accidents than others.  These types of crashes obviously leave behind a wake of devastation more often than not.  We hope that increased awareness of this issue will make a positive impact.

About the Truck Drivers’ Health Study

Researchers from several different academic institutions and treatment facilities from around the United States collaborated on the study.  The researchers identified several different health conditions that have been linked to poor driving performance.  Examples of these problematic health conditions included:

  • Back problems
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes

The researchers then examined medical records from 49,464 commercial truck drivers.  They matched these truck drivers’ medical records with their crash records.  Doing so allowed the researchers to basically quantify the risk of any one of these drivers being involved in a trucking accident on any given day over the course of seven years.  These steps identified the following results:

  • More than one-third of the truck drivers had at least one medical condition that was included as a risk factor for the analysis.
  • 82 drivers were placed in the ‘highest risk’ category based on their overall health.
  • The crash rate for all drivers was 29 per 100 million miles driven.
  • Drivers with three or more medical problems previously identified had a crash rate of 93 per 100 million miles driven.

Therefore, based on this quantitative analysis, drivers with at least three medical conditions identified by the researchers were more than three times as likely to be involved in trucking accidents as compared to the overall group.  As such, the worse a truck driver’s health was, the more likely he or she was to experience an accident.  Those interested in reading the study can find it here.  (subscription)

Trucking Accidents Statistics

It seems probable that poor health on the part of drivers at least plays a role in the overall statistics regarding trucking accidents in the United States.  According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, or FMCSA, the following statistics describe the number of trucking accidents across the country in 2014, the most recent year from which data are available:

  • Total number of trucking accidents – 411,424
  • Trucking accidents resulting in property damage – 382,000
  • Trucking accidents resulting in at least one injury – 82,000
  • Crashes resulting in at least one fatality – 3,424

Those interested in seeing the full breakdown provided by the FMCSA can find it here.

San Diego County Trucking Accidents Statistics

San Diego is hardly immune to trucking accidents, regardless of what causes any particular crash.  According to the California Highway Patrol, the following statistics relate to San Diego trucking accidents between 2009 and 2013, which are the five most recent years with complete data:

  • 2009 – 10 fatal trucking accidents, 242 injury crashes
  • 2010 – 8 fatal trucking accidents, 228 injury crashes
  • 2011 – 14 fatal trucking accidents, 253 injury crashes
  • 2012 – 10 fatal trucking accidents, 248 injury crashes
  • 2013 – 10 fatal trucking accidents, 240 injury crashes

These numbers are extremely consistent.  The averages for the area are over 10 fatal San Diego trucking accidents per year and 242 injury crashes on an annual basis.

Health and Driving Safety

It’s quite logical to believe that someone who is in good overall health is likely less of a risk on the roads than someone who is in poor health.  For instance, someone with advanced heart disease can encounter a serious medical situation at almost any given time, including while behind the wheel.  Healthy drivers are less likely to encounter such a circumstance based purely on probability.  Relatively few studies have been done on this topic. This is one of the reasons that the study discussed above could lead to involved discussions.  Industry advocates, labor advocates and driving safety advocates all have an interest in reducing the risk of trucking accidents occurring.

One study that was published involved testing 26 drivers who were between the ages of 55 and 78 at the time, which was 2009.  One group of drivers took part in an exercise program that consisted of three workout sessions per week for eight weeks.  These workout sessions lasted for 60 minutes and consisted of exercises that involved movement and reaction time.  The other group, the control group, did not take part in this exercise program.  The researchers found that the exercise group displayed improved driving capabilities at the end of eight weeks.  Those who would like to review the abstract for that study can find it here.

How San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

As stated above, trucking accidents cause an enormous amount of damage when they occur.  A truck with a full load of cargo can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.  What’s even more dangerous is that these vehicles travel at the same high speeds as much smaller cars, pickup trucks, vans and SUVs.  These smaller vehicles weigh an average of approximately 4,000 pounds.  That mismatch alone should lead anyone to understand that when they are involved in trucking accidents, they face extreme danger.

In addition to the dangers faced, those who are wrongfully injured in trucking accidents can also face a relatively complicated situation when it comes to pursuing a recovery for damages incurred.  These situations are best handled by experienced professionals who understand what is involved when a truck driver causes a crash.  If you face this difficult situation, contact the San Diego trucking accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.

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