Commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) can only be given to drivers who are medically qualified to drive big rigs and other large commercial trucks. The medical requirements on truck drivers are much more stringent than those that apply to regular passenger car drivers. For passenger car drivers it’s primarily vision testing. However at least every two years commercial truck drivers are required to undergo a CDL physical.
The CDL physical is where they go before a licensed doctor who fills out a form asking questions about various aspects of the driver’s health and doing some limited testing. There are some conditions that are known to cause fatigue, loss of alertness and other problems being able to physically handle the long hours and dangers of operating a large truck included among these diseases are uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes that requires insulin, and untreated sleep apnea. There are also other conditions which can make a truck driver medically unfit to operate large trucks for a living.
Unfortunately, some truck drivers and trucking companies think that these rules are just obstacles to be avoided or gotten around. Perhaps the truck driver will give incomplete or inaccurate history of prior treatment and disease in the questionnaire. The trucking company may make suggestions as to how to get a looser interpretation of the rules from one doctor to the next. The scary thing is that there are lots of truck drivers out there whose licenses are or should be restricted because of medical unfitness. Anytime a medically unfit truck driver gets behind the wheel of a 30,000 pound vehicle he is putting everyone’s lives in danger as they drive on the highway next to you or come down the road in your neighborhood.
With the chronic problems of obesity and sleep deprivation in the United States a lot of these truck driver medical conditions which make them unsafe to get behind the wheel are increasing and the shortage of good professional truck drivers is also increasing. This is a dangerous situation that most Virginians are probably unaware of. However that truck driver next to you might be chronically fatigued, unable to focus, or slower to react to a dangerous emergency requiring his full attention than he should be. I always try to give truck drivers a wide birth because quite frankly I don’t trust that they are all following these medical safety rules as they’re required to.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a truck, contact our Virginia trucking accident lawyers at 757.455.0077 or see CooperHurley.com.