Aging Truck Drivers Face Medical Conditions that Reduce Roadway Safety

by Howard Ankin
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Aging commercial truck drivers face medical conditions that create safety hazards for themselves and other drivers. The physical and mental exhaustion associated with trucking can negatively impact many age-related conditions.

Age-Related Medical Conditions that Impact Safety

Driving a large commercial truck requires long hours and often heavy lifting for loading and unloading. The job can take a toll on even young, physically fit drivers. Aging truck drivers face even greater risks with age-related medical conditions that can impact roadway safety.

  • Vision and Hearing Loss – According to the CDC, one in six adults over the age of 60 suffers from vision and/or hearing loss. Impaired vision is a common cause of trucking accidents.
  • Bone Loss – The risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis that contribute to bone loss, muscle pain, stiffness, and chronic pain increase with age. Falls are the number one cause of injury for people 55 and over.
  • Heart Disease – Blood pressure often increases with age, especially for people with sedentary occupations like truck driving. High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and seizures.
  • Diabetes – High blood sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes, commonly seen in older adults. If not properly managed, diabetes can result in shock, seizures, coma and death, a lethal combination.
  • Mental Disorders – According to the World Health Organization, over 15 percent of adults over age 60 suffer from depression or anxiety. Extreme fatigue and lack of sleep, common in commercial truckers, contributes to increased symptoms.

Medical Requirements for Commercial Truckers

All persons who drive commercial motor vehicles, weighing 10,000 pounds or more, are subject to minimum physical qualifications. Unless exempted by federal or state law, a medical examination by a licensed physician is required to ensure that a person is medically qualified to safely operate a commercial vehicle. To ensure public safety and reduce serious trucking accidents, drivers of all commercial vehicles are held to higher physical and mental standards than drivers of passenger cars.

To obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a truck driver must be issued an official FMCSA Medical Examiner’s Certificate. It must be carried at all times and renewed every two years. To renew a CDL, a truck driver must self-certify his/her medical status. If drivers lie or provide false documentation related to their physical or mental fitness, they may face steep fines and/or loss of employment.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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