A new safety study is reporting that there are hundreds of thousands of tractor-trailer operators and bus drivers in the United States with commercial driver’s licenses even though they suffer from medical conditions that could cause them to have seizures, blackouts, heart attacks, or experience other major health issues while driving. As a result, hundreds of injuries and deaths have occurred because some of these medically unfit drivers experienced health emergencies while on the road. The study was obtained and reported on by the Associated Press.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is in charge of disciplining unfit drivers, says it hasn’t completed any of the recommendations that US safety regulators proposed 7 years ago. Recommendations included barring truck drivers from “doctor shopping,” which allows them to find a doctor that would ignore or not notice that the driver suffered from a health condition, and establishing a minimum truck standard that officials can work with to determine when a truck driver is no longer medically safe to get behind the wheel.
The latest information gathered by the Transportation Department in 2006 showed that there were 7.3 million commercial driver violations, and truckers in violation of federal medical rules were apprehended in every US State. Maryland was one of the 12 US states with drivers having the most sanctions for violating these rules.
A 2007 federal safety study found that drivers falling asleep or becoming physically impaired while on the road were among the leading causes of serious truck accidents.
A driver that experiences a seizure, a heart attack, or a fainting spell while behind the wheel can pose a serious danger to motorists and other pedestrians. That driver will likely be unable to stay in control of the vehicle, which can lead to serious motor vehicle collisions and pedestrian accidents.
A Congressional hearing is scheduled this week to examine recent findings related to why it is easy for many unfit truckers and bus drivers to continue working without having to deal with disciplinary repercussions. Prevention recommendations will be assessed.
The impact of being struck by an out-of-control bus or truck can lead to catastrophic consequences for victims. In Maryland and Washington DC, our truck crash lawyers can determine whether a truck driver or trucking company was negligent in causing the motor vehicle accident that resulted in your injuries.
Medically unfit truck drivers still on roads, AP, July 21, 2008
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