Because of the massive size and weight of tractor-trailers, truck accidents are often catastrophic events. In fact, in 2019 alone, these accidents resulted in more than 4,100 fatalities. An alarming 84% of these deaths involved occupants of passenger cars, motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians.
While trucker negligence, mechanical failures and other factors may contribute to a serious truck accident, poor driver health may also play a significant role.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports long-haul truck drivers are two times more likely to smoke cigarettes than other drivers. While tobacco use may not be an immediate safety issue, it can lead to health conditions that may make it difficult for professional drivers to control their vehicles. Cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and emphysema are common risks for long-term smokers.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an effective way to avoid many chronic health conditions and other ailments. Because of the comparatively sedentary nature of their jobs, long-haul truckers have a greater chance of being overweight or obese. Obesity may lead to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions that may make a truck driver unsafe.
To keep motorists and others safe, professional truck drivers must take mandatory rest breaks. A trucker’s poor health, though, may contribute to sleep apnea and other sleep-related disorders. If truckers compensate for sleep deprivation by consuming energy drinks or taking stimulants, they may not realize they are too drowsy to drive responsibly.
Trucking company owners have a duty to ensure their drivers are healthy enough to operate commercial vehicles without endangering the lives of others. Fortunately, if a driver’s poor health causes an accident that results in serious injuries, substantial financial compensation may be available.