Truck driving is a largely sedentary career. With the exception of drivers who help load their trailers, professional drivers will spend most of their shifts sitting and operating their commercial vehicles. Often, they may experience back pain and other challenges stemming from remaining seated for so long.
Members of the public might therefore assume that the health of a commercial driver has very little bearing on their job performance. However, one of the many forms of oversight intended to promote public safety involves mandatory medical exams for those with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).
While health issues won’t automatically keep someone from getting or renewing a CDL, there are certain concerns that require treatment and management, unless they put the truck driver and others at increased risk of a crash. What two medical conditions are among the most concerning for long-haul truckers and other commercial drivers?
Undiagnosed or unmanaged diabetes
Someone’s blood sugar can affect everything from their mood and focus to their consciousness. Low blood sugar, which could occur for numerous reasons in people with unmanaged or improperly managed diabetes, can potentially lead to fainting spells. A commercial driver experiencing a low blood sugar episode could lose consciousness and therefore lose control of the vehicle.
Factors including someone’s weight and genetic predisposition could contribute to them having respiratory issues when they sleep at night. Sleep apnea is a medical condition marked by difficulty breathing normally while unconscious and sudden and abrupt cessations in respiration, often followed by someone waking from sleep. Sleep apnea therefore drastically compromises the quality of someone’s rest at night and may leave them in a fatigued or exhausted state. They could fall asleep at the wheel or experience microsleep sessions where they don’t close their eyes but temporarily lose awareness of their surroundings. They could also have increased reaction times and compromised decision-making abilities because of their poor quality of sleep.
Health conditions that affect a driver are one of the known causes of preventable commercial vehicle crashes. Understanding what caused a semi-truck wreck is an important step for those hoping to get compensation after one occurs.