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Poor truck driver health linked to higher accident rates

Maintaining good health can be difficult for truck drivers in New Jersey and around the country. Spending most of the working day sitting behind the wheel of a semi-tractor trailer does not provide the body with much in the way of exercise, and many of the dishes offered at truck stops are not generally known for their nutritional value. The U.S. Department of Transportation assessed the health of the nation's long-haul truck drivers in 2014, and it found that commercial vehicle operators are more than twice as likely to be overweight, diabetic and cigarette smokers.

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine by the University Of Utah School Of Medicine on Jan. 10 has linked poor truck driver health with elevated accident risks. The researchers came to this conclusion after studying the medical histories and driving records of approximately 50,000 commercial truck drivers. Conditions like lower back pain and obesity that can diminish driving skills were flagged by the research team, and it was discovered that drivers who suffered from three or more of them crashed three times as often.

Drivers who fell into this higher risk category had about 93 accidents for each 100,000 miles they traveled, but American truck drivers as a whole crash only 29 times for each 100,000 miles covered. The lead author of the study said that road users would likely be safer if doctors were aware of this cumulative effect when treating commercial vehicle operators.

Experienced personal injury attorneys often study documentation like medical histories and driving records when preparing a truck accident lawsuit, and conditions that could impair job performance may be brought up in court or during settlement discussions. Attorneys could also initiate litigation against trucking companies when drivers with known debilitating medical issues have been permitted to get behind the wheel.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, "National Survey of Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury", Office of Research and Information Technology, Jan. 14, 2014

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