Long haul commercial truck driving can be one of the deadliest professions in America. Over 250,000 accidents each year are attributed to commercial trucking, with roughly 5,000 of those accidents resulting in fatalities. One of the biggest contributing factors to the deadly nature of commercial trucking is the poor health of truck drivers.
Commercial trucking is a demanding profession, requiring countless hours on the road. It is not uncommon for truck drivers to haul loads over multiple state lines on a single crossing, often going hours without sleep or proper nutrition. Medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and back pain are all common ailments in truck drivers and have also been linked to poor driving performance. Further, high blood pressure and fatigue, two top indicators of poor health in truckers, can be attributed to poor diet and lack of sleep. Factors such as stress, heavy lifting, long hours, and lack of exercise are all characteristics of commercial trucking and contribute greatly to poor health conditions.
To offset the effects of sleeplessness, many truck drivers turn to stimulants like amphetamines. Amphetamines can be used to stave off fatigue, allowing some truck drivers to drive longer without rest. Along with producing dangerous driving conditions in general, these drugs can also contribute to major health risks such as vertigo and hallucinations. Stimulants also change the driver’s perceptions and ability to react to emergency driving situations, including inclement weather. It should thus come as no surprise that over 35% of truck drivers who die in an accident test positive for an illegal drug.
All of the factors discussed above contribute to a greater likelihood of trucking accidents. Research shows that truck drivers with three or more medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, fatigue, etc.) are 2 to 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash than healthy drivers. For example, studies have shown that the rate of crashes among all truck drivers was around 29 per 100 million miles traveled. The rate of crashes more than triples for drivers with three or more ailments for the same number of miles traveled.
Trucking accidents are so devastating because of the size and weight of the truck involved. Many of the most common injuries associated with trucking accidents are fractures, paralysis, and serious burns. If you were injured in a truck accident, you will likely need to prove negligence by establishing the truck driver’s duty of care, a breach of that duty, a causal connection from the breach to your injuries, and damages. Truck drivers owe a duty to all other drivers to operate their vehicle with reasonable care. Often times, an injured party can show a breach of that duty by establishing that the truck driver was operating their vehicle despite being under the influence of drugs. If this breach of duty caused the trucking accident that resulted in your injuries, you may be able to recover damages for medical bills, lost income, and permanent disability.
Trucking accidents are a specialized field within personal injury law with complex regulations governing the ins and outs of litigation. Truckers and their employers are subject to specific federal guidelines and safety regulations. Sometimes, rogue trucking companies deliberately encourage their employees to break the rules. If you have been hurt in a truck accident, is important to seek legal advice from lawyers who have experience handling large trucking accident cases and can expend the resources necessary to properly handle the case from start to finish, including retaining accident reconstruction experts.
For a free consultation on your truck crash case, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-LAW-4004. We are the largest plaintiff’s personal injury law firm based in Tennessee.