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Study Cites Fatigue and Health Issues as Trucking Accident Crash Risks

Casey Woodruff

truckMany of us know that drowsy driving can result in serious and often deadly trucking accidents in Champaign. But what are some of the other common risk factors for truck collisions? The answer to that question might surprise you. According to a recent article from U.S. News & World Report, general health and blood pressure issues may be playing a role in truck drivers’ accident risks. The article cited a study reported recently in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which emphasized that fatigue and cellphone use are among the top risk factors for a severe truck accident.

Conditions for a Dangerous Truck Collision

As the article notes, “long-haul truck driving is among the most dangerous of jobs” in our country. Truckers are involved in around 250,000 accidents each year. Although a large majority of those collisions do not result in truck driver death (only between 1 and 2 percent of all trucking accidents lead to fatalities), the total number of crashes is still very high. And according to Matthew Thiese, one of the authors of the study who is an assistant professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah, “conditions that are characteristic to a truck driver’s job may be putting them in danger.”

Thiese emphasized that knowing more about crash risks—including those like blood pressure that may not immediately come to mind for most drivers—can help to prevent accidents in the future.

In their study, the researchers examined data from about 800 truckers at various “truck stops and truck shows in Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada, Texas, and Utah.” What did they find? Drowsy driving and cellphone use behind the wheel were major risk factors for a serious auto accident.  The study also reported that “high pulse pressure—pulse pressure is the difference between the top and bottom numbers in a blood pressure reading—increased risk of an accident.”

Understanding High Blood Pressure Among Truck Drivers

According to the researchers, nearly 25 percent of all drivers in the study had “undiagnosed and untreated high blood pressure.” A major contributing factor in high blood pressure is weight, and more than 60 percent of the truck drivers in the study were obese. Other factors that can contribute to fatigued driving and high pulse pressure include but are not limited to:

  • Emotional stress;
  • Long working hours;
  • Heavy lifting requirements;
  • Lack of sleep; and
  • Lack of exercise.

While trucking regulations exist to ensure that drivers get enough rest before they get behind the wheel, it is difficult to regulate issues such as high blood pressure. Yet health concerns may put drivers at just as great of a risk of an accident as lack of sleep. Every two years, truck drivers do have to “undergo medical certification.” But if the facts of the study are true of truckers across the country, it seems as though medical certifications are not doing enough—or are not happening with enough frequency—to help keep drivers healthy.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a trucking accident, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. Do not hesitate to discuss your case with an experienced Champaign truck accident lawyer. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans to learn more about how we can assist you with your lawsuit.

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