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Study links poor truck driver health with increased crash risk

Many truck accidents in North Carolina and across the U.S. may be caused by poor driver health, according investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine. A study has been published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that shows a correlation between trucker crash risk and the presence of one or more medical conditions.

The report analyzed the medical and crash histories of 49,464 commercial truck drivers and found that 34 percent had at least one medical condition that previously contributed to poor driving performance. Issues ranged from anxiety and high blood pressure to diabetes, heart disease, and lower back pain. Those with three or more conditions doubled and sometimes quadrupled their chances of being in an accident. A total of 82 drivers were placed in the highest risk group.

The authors of the study calculated the crash risk among all drivers and concluded that for every 100 million miles driven, there were 29 crashes resulting in injury. Among drivers with three or more health conditions, that number jumped to 93. This trend is largely unaffected by factors like age and driving experience.

The study concluded that trucking companies should consider how multiple medical conditions interact with each other rather than isolate each condition. This could lead to tougher screening processes that keep some drivers off the road.

Still, truck accidents can be caused by everything from inattention to reckless actions like speeding. When another driver is injured, he or she could consult with a lawyer about filing a claim before the statute of limitations runs out. The lawyer may determine the trucker's degree of guilt and negotiate for a fair settlement.

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