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Trucking Companies Facing Pressure to Make Drivers Healthier

Even with gas prices remaining high, tractor-trailers remain a popular and cost-efficient way to ship goods across the country. Motorists throughout Austin can see evidence of this any time they head out on area roadways. But not every truck reaches its destination safely, and there are many reasons why trucking accidents happen.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the federal agency that regulates the trucking industry, has long studied some of the factors behind trucking accidents. The agency will use this information to create new rules that help to reduce the likelihood that similar accidents will happen in the future.

One area that is receiving increased attention concerns the health of truck drivers. Truckers spend a lot of time on the roads, and might not be able to devote sufficient time to staying in shape. Health problems are common in the industry, and officials are concerned that this is leading to more accidents.

The FMCSA has proposed a rule that would limit the body mass index of drivers in an effort to cut down on the number of drivers that could have or develop sleep apneas. These drivers may not be as well-rested as their counterparts, and this could lead to more drowsy drivers on roadways.

Additionally, trucking companies are being encouraged to develop fitness plans for their drivers. Some companies have started wellness programs, and have also assisted drivers that were trying to quit smoking.

While these are definitely positive signs, the agency could impose harsh penalties for trucking companies that hire unsafe drivers. Repeat safety violations could result in drivers or companies being ordered out-of-service, which means they must shut down until the problems are resolved.

Source: USA Today "More truckers focus on getting healthier" Larry Copeland, August 22, 2012.

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