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Why semi-truck drivers have to undergo physicals

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | 18-Wheeler-Accidents

Most people don’t think of truck driving as a physically demanding job. While truck drivers do sometimes help load and unload trailers, the vast majority of their shift is spent seated. They may grip a steering wheel and press pedals, but their job does not involve constant intense physical exertion the way that construction or factory work might.

Those with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) are subject to numerous restrictions and personal obligations. There are harsher traffic laws that apply when someone operates a commercial truck as opposed to a standard passenger vehicle. There is also more education required to get their CDL. Finally, there are regular medical exams required to obtain and maintain a CDL.

Why are medical reviews important for a largely sedentary job?

Health issues can cause crashes

A brief review of the causes of major semi-truck crashes reveals some concerning trends. Drivers make quite a few mistakes and may also fail to monitor their surroundings. Those are factors that drivers can potentially control. However, a small but concerning number of crashes occur due to factors that drivers may not directly control. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) acknowledges driver non-performance as one of the leading causes of semi-truck collisions. Approximately 12% of the reported crashes involved a driver who became unable to do their job.

Frequently, it is a medical issue that renders someone unable to safely drive. Heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, strokes and even adverse reactions to medication could render a driver temporarily incapable of safely controlling their vehicle. When someone is at the wheel of a semi-truck, a lapse of control for a fraction of a second could be enough to cause a crash that affects numerous other people. Medical screening therefore potentially helps identify high-risk drivers and may connect some of those professionals with treatment to reduce their risk of becoming unable to do their job unexpectedly.

Despite efforts to reduce medical emergencies and driver non-performance, these issues remain serious contributing factors to traffic collision risk. Filing an insurance claim or lawsuit might be a reasonable response to a semi-truck collision caused due to driver’s non-performance. Drivers who learn about what causes crashes may use that information to protect themselves or seek justice after a wreck.