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Truck drivers in poor health may crash more often

Sitting behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer for 10 or more hours each day and eating at truck stops and highway rest areas are not the ingredients of an active and healthy lifestyle, and truck drivers in West Virginia and around the country can be more likely to be in poor health than the population as a whole. The U.S. Department of Transportation looked into the health of the nation's long-haul commercial vehicle drivers in 2014, and it discovered alarming rates of cigarette smoking, obesity and diabetes.

While some may feel that this is primarily a worry for America's truck drivers, research from the University of Utah School of Medicine suggests that all road users might have good reason to be concerned. The researchers scrutinized the medical histories of about 50,000 long-haul truck drivers, and they looked for conditions like heart disease and chronic back pain that could influence behavior behind the wheel. They then looked at the driver's accident histories to see if these flagged conditions had caused them to crash more often.

The researchers discovered that truck drivers who suffered from three or more serious health issues were more than three times more likely to be involved in truck crashes. The nation's truck drivers as a whole crash about 29 times in the time it takes them to cover 100,000 miles, but drivers with a combination of the flagged medical conditions crashed 93 times while traveling the same distance.

Experienced personal injury attorneys may check medical, driving, maintenance and violations records carefully when preparing a truck accident lawsuit, and the information found in these documents may help them to more fully comprehend accident investigations and police reports. Understanding all of the factors that could have contributed to a crash may also be extremely valuable during settlement negotiations.

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

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