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Is the Obesity Epidemic Contributing to Miami Truck Accidents?

When many people think of the causes of Miami truck accidents, speed, distracted driving, fatigued driving, and substance abuse may be the top causes that come to mind. However, according to a recent article in The New York Times, obesity and health issues may be a risk factor that we all need to take seriously to reduce the number of truck accidents on US roads.

According to a 2007 article in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, there were 3.2 million truck drivers in the US that year, and roughly 86% of those drivers were either overweight or obese. When the Healthy Trucking Association of America held a blood pressure screening a few years ago, 21 of 2000 drivers tested were sent directly to the emergency room from the screening with chronically high blood pressure levels. Many more showed high blood pressure levels, and one driver had a heart attack after being screened.

According to industry experts and insurance carriers, there are many reasons why truck drivers may be especially susceptible to obesity and the health risks that come with it. For example, Miami truck drivers drive very long hours, and get very little exercise while actually driving. After long shifts, few truck drivers have the energy or motivation to work out, and finding places to work out while on the road can be challenging. In addition, drivers often eat on the road, and truck stops as well as other dining experiences on the road do not always offer the same healthy options available to those who have the benefit of eating at home most of the time.

Despite these challenges, insurance companies, trucking companies, and drivers want to see changes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, truck drivers are among the most at-risk workers for on-the-job injuries and there is mounting evidence that some of those injuries may be due to the health conditions of truck drivers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately 87% of truck accidents in 2007 stemmed at least in part in from driver error and in 12% of cases these errors were related to health, as they were caused by heart attacks, diabetic shock, and other health problems.

There is no doubt that obesity and excess weight can pose a danger on our roads. Obesity can cause diabetes, heart attacks, sleep apnea, and a host of other medical conditions which can be extremely dangerous on the road. When a truck driver has a heart attack or other medical emergency on the road, a Miami car accident or truck accident is virtually inevitable. When truck drivers are so unfit and in such poor condition that they are ill, they may be making mistakes that lead to Miami traffic accidents.

By law, the United States Department of Transportation mandates that all commercial truck drivers need to take a bi-yearly medical exam. This exam tests for high blood pressure, respiratory problems, cardiac conditions, sleep disorders, and other medical problems which can affect a driver’s ability to drive safely. However, the tests do not address the real issue of driver health. The tests may determine when a driver is no longer safe on the road, but do not address the conditions that lead to truck driver obesity in the first place.

Some truck drivers, insurance companies, and truck carriers are fighting back. There is a growing movement of drivers looking to make health changes and companies assisting, by providing health seminars, access to nutritionists, and other resources. However, the biggest changes will likely occur when there is a financial incentive to get fit. When truck drivers can enjoy additional benefits or bonuses for staying healthy or are given more tools to stay fit, more changes can be expected.

If you have been in a Miami truck accident and have sustained injuries, you will want to speak with an experienced Miami truck accident attorney before you make any decisions in your case. Contact the Flaxman Law Group to arrange for a free accident consultation to find out if you have a case and to get the facts about your rights and options. Your consultation costs nothing and comes with no obligation.

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