Thousands of motorists continue to be at risk from truck accidents caused by truckers who are just too sick to drive. That terrifying fact comes to us via a report by a television station which claims that tens of thousands of truck drivers continue to be able to drive, despite suffering from a variety of ailments that should actually keep them away from the wheel.
Under trucking laws, drivers are expected to be able to produce a copy of their medical certificate that certifies that the driver is medically fit to be behind the wheel of a large commercial truck. However, far too many drivers are getting by with phony medical certificates. The process of obtaining a fake medical certificate is so easy it’s almost a joke. Blank certificates are available from the government website, and all a far-from-fit driver has to do is download a blank copy which he can then fill out himself, and sign. Verification methods are notoriously hard with the result that these drivers manage to smoothly and easily slip through the cracks. An investigation last year revealed that out of every three medical certificates produced at truck inspection stops, one could not be verified.
It’s not just the kind of deceit going on that should alarm Atlanta truck accident lawyers, but also the scale. According to a federal report last year, there are more than 560,000 truck drivers who are also currently receiving full medical-disability payments. That means there are 560,000 truck drivers with a valid commercial driver’s license who are not in any condition to be driving a large vehicle.
According to trucker health experts, drivers who work long hours, sleep little, eat possibly unhealthy and high fat food during their meal breaks and spend lonely hours from their families are more likely to be at risk for lifestyle dieses like heart disease. Besides cardiac diseases, truckers also suffer from neurological disorders and sleep apnea, a condition in which there are frequent disturbances in sleep. People who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to be tired and fatigued the next day, and consequently, nod off at the wheel.
This state of affairs hopefully will not continue for long. By 2012, federal authorities expect to have a national database of truck drivers up and running. Copies of medical certificates of all truck drivers will be included in the accessible database. Besides, there are also plans to have examiners file an electronic report besides a medical certificate for each truck driver they examine. This measure could help control the rampant manipulation of the system that seems to be going on here.