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Truck drivers with certain medical conditions still driving

Commercial truck drivers are required to undergo medical examinations to ensure that they will be safe drivers on the road. While medical exams can catch some disqualifying conditions that may make a truck driver unsafe, truck drivers are supposed to disclose any medical conditions or medications that could pose a threat to their driving.

If a truck driver has a disqualifying medical condition or takes medication that can make him or her an unsafe driver, he or she will not receive the medical certification necessary to obtain their CDL. While commercial truck drivers are supposed to disclose any potentially disqualifying medical conditions, not all truck drivers do. This can be very dangerous and can contribute to commercial truck accidents.

A report by the Government Accountability Office found that more than 200 truck drivers drove commercial trucks even though they had epilepsy, which is a disqualifying medical condition and put those drivers at a higher risk of being in a commercial truck accident. In fact, 31 of those truck drivers were involved in an accident.

The report said that many commercial drivers who have a disqualifying medical condition continue to see doctors until they find one who will approve them for their medical certification that allows them to drive commercial vehicles.

While some doctors may overlook medical problems that would make someone an unsafe truck driver, the report said that many physicians are not familiar with commercial trucking regulations and what medical conditions disqualify someone from driving a commercial vehicle. In addition, some drivers don't tell their physician all of their medical information, which makes it difficult for them to diagnose them with a disqualifying condition in the first place.

To address these safety concerns, the Department of Transportation is requiring commercial truck drivers to give state driver licensing agencies a copy of their medical certificate. They have also issued new rules that require the physicians who perform their medical examinations to be properly trained, tested and certified based on national standards for the commercial truck industry.

The dangers of unsafe commercial truck drivers will most likely continue but many safety groups hope that these new rules will help keep truck drivers with certain medical conditions off the road and lead to a reduction in commercial truck accidents.

Source: Truckinginfo, "Is a CDL worth someone's life?" Feb. 26, 2013

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