A recent government watchdog organization’s report estimates that approximately 563,000 commercial drivers (about 4% of commercial license holders nationwide) have medical conditions that would qualify them for full disability benefits. The medical disabilities include impaired vision, hearing, seizures, heart attacks, sleep disorders, or periods of unconsciousness that could lead to deadly crashes if they occur while drivers are behind the wheel. These statistics are alarming, especially in light of a federal study that reported last summer that the leading causes of serious crashes involving tractor trailer and other big trucks were drivers falling asleep, blacking out or collapsing while operating their vehicles. In 2006, over 5,000 people died in wrecks involving large commercial vehicles, and over 125,000 people were injured in such crashes. Despite these numbers, the agency primarily responsible for regulating the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, reports that it has not completed eight recommendations that U.S. safety regulators proposed back in 2001. One of the key standards proposed was to set a minimum standard for officials who decide whether a trucker is medically safe to operate a truck. Another standard not yet adopted is a provision prohibiting truckers from doctor-shopping until they find a doctor willing to certify that they are fit to drive. These are eye-opening facts to consider when driving down the interstate at night with eighteen wheelers in front and back of your car.
The attorneys at Pierce & Thornton have experience and expertise in representing families of those seriously injured or killed by the negligence of truck drivers. Please call us if you or your family needs the help of one of our truck accident attorneys.