Study finds that truckers’ poor health could spike crash risk

Truckers with three or more medical conditions carry two to four times the risk of being in a crash when compared to healthier drivers, according to a new study from the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Researchers say the study indicates that truckers might not just be a danger to themselves – but to other drivers on the road, according to a press release about the study. The results were published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

“What these data are telling us is that with decreasing health comes increased crash risk, including crashes that truck drivers could prevent,” says the study’s lead author Matthew Thiese, an assistant professor at the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, in the press release.

Researchers looked at medical records from nearly 50,000 commercial truck drivers. Nearly 35 percent showed signs of at least one of many serious medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes that are connected to poor driving. Then, researchers compared a driver’s medical and crash history.

According to the study, there were 29 injury-causing accidents among all truck drivers per 100 million miles traveled. For those with three or more illnesses, it spiked to 93 injury-causing accidents per 100 million miles traveled. Accidents increased regardless of a driver’s age or experience.

Current guidelines require that truckers stop driving only if they have a major health concern, not a variety of less serious illnesses. Researchers said they need to continue to study the issue to determine the best practices to keep both truck drivers and the public safe on the road.

“If we can better understand the interplay between driver health and crash risk, then we can better address safety concerns,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Kurt Hegmann, director of the Rocky Mountain Center, in the press release.

Here on the MKC Medical Management blog, we’ve said it before. When evaluating vehicle accident claims, it’s critical to consider pre-existing conditions that could have caused the crash and could impact the level of injuries – not only to the drivers, but to other people involved.

A thorough reading of emergency room and other health records is critical to suss out all of the relevant information and how that information impacts the claim whatever the payer source. That should always include pre-existing conditions.

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