When a person drives a semi-truck for a living, their “office” is their vehicle. For truckers, staying safe at work means being alert and competent behind the wheel, which often means staying as fit and healthy as possible.
By contrast, an unhealthy driver is more susceptible to serious medical emergencies on the road, which can put the motorists around them at risk.
But just how dangerous is it for a trucker to have a health problem? According to a study from the University of Utah School of Medicine, it can be quite dangerous for an unhealthy driver to get on the road. Researchers have found that truckers who have health conditions can have four times the risk of being involved in a trucking accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in Texas, you should contact a personal injury lawyer like Attorney Zach Herbert of Herbert & Eberstein in Richardson, who has experience handling truck wreck cases.
Link Between Trucker Health and Truck Crashes
The study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, looked at the medical records of nearly 50,000 truck drivers involved in accidents between 2005 and 2012.
Researchers found that 34 percent of drivers showed signs of at least one major health condition, including diabetes, low back pain, and heart disease. All three of these conditions have been linked to lower performance while driving.
When researchers examined the motor vehicle accident history of drivers with health problems, they found those truck drivers who had a minimum of three identified health conditions had the highest accident rates.
Among all truckers, 82 drivers were put into a high-risk group based on calculations that assessed their daily crash risk. Researchers found that truckers in this category also had the highest rates of preventable accidents as well as accidents that resulted in injuries.
According to one of the study’s authors, “What these data are telling us is that with decreasing health comes increased crash risk, including crashes that truck drivers could prevent.”
The crash statistics showed that the frequency of accidents involving an injury was 29 accidents per 100 million miles for all drivers. However, among those in the high-risk group, the rate skyrocketed to 93 accidents per 100 million miles. The rate stayed the same even after researchers factored in things like the trucker’s driving experience and the number of years on the road.
Researchers also found that certain conditions by themselves didn’t impact a driver’s crash rate, but combinations of health conditions did. For example, a trucker could probably manage diabetes, but a trucker who suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure was less likely to successfully manage their condition.
The study’s lead author stated, “Right now, conditions are thought of in isolation. There’s no guidance for looking at multiple conditions in concert.” According to experts, looking at truckers’ health conditions as a whole could improve safety on the road for both truck drivers and other motorists.
Trucker Mental Health
One area of overall health among truckers that is often neglected is mental health. According to one statistic, about one-third of the 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States will experience at least one major motor vehicle accident in their career.
Even if the trucker isn’t directly involved in the crash, being on the road all the time means truckers are more likely to see a crash as it happens or shortly afterward. Like first responders such as police officers and paramedics, truckers may be among the first individuals to arrive on the scene of an accident.
This exposure to serious accidents, including fatal crashes, can leave many truckers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to industry experts, many truckers have difficulty getting access to appropriate mental health services, which can exacerbate the problem. Because truckers typically work long hours away from home, it can be tough, if not impossible, for them to make appointments with mental health counselors.
Additionally, about 94 percent of truck drivers are men, and men tend to seek out mental health services at lower rates compared to women.
Experts say that truckers are also more likely to come from a lower economic background, and studies show that people with lower incomes are less likely to obtain mental health services than people from the middle and upper classes.
Mental health problems in truck drivers can get worse if the trucker is fatigued. Because many truckers work long hours with minimal breaks, their stress levels may be higher than the average person.
When you compound this with PTSD, the result can be a higher risk of being involved in a serious accident.
Speak to a Truck Accident Lawyer About Your Case
If you were injured by a semi-truck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. It’s important to work with an experienced Dallas truck accident lawyer about your case. Call Herbert & Eberstein, a personal injury law firm in Dallas, TX and let them explain your options and help you make informed decisions.
Attorney Zach Herbert