Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) January 18, 2012 – Being obese while trucking leaves drivers prone to serious health issues. Those issues can affect others on the road.
“Pretty much the last thing people think when they see a heavy trucker behind the wheel of a big rig is that he could kill someone because he is obese. The last thing truckers feel like doing, after being in a cab for hundreds and hundreds of miles and having a lunch break at the Greasy Spoon, is work out or even go for a walk. Over time, the poor diet and lifestyle catches up with them and causes heart attacks or other heart related issues,” said Robert W. Lee, an Austin personal injury attorney of The Lee Law Firm in Texas.
How many times has anyone seen a trucker riding a bike at a rest stop? Taking a dog for a walk or jogging when they are done with their routes? The answer is usually, “Not many,” and that needs to stop. If America wants safer highways, truckers need to take responsibility for not just driving safely, but their own health that does affect their driving.
Consider the story of one trucker who tipped the scales at 405 pounds. That is a lot of strain on the heart. This particular trucker was smarter than most and cared about what could happen to him. He took his life back and changed the way he ate and exercised. He managed to lose 70 pounds and is keeping on with his quest to improve his health. This trucker is a rarity and more often than not, truckers across the nation are not in great shape. For instance, just about 86 percent of about 3.2 million truckers are overweight or obese notes the American Dietetic Association.
“Thankfully, it appears the trucking industry is finally getting the message loud and clear,” Lee pointed out. “This is partly in response to the Healthy Trucking Association of America and their blood pressure screening demonstration at an annual truck show. That demo sent 21 truckers to the E.R. post haste and one of them had a heart attack on his way to hospital. It’s hard to ignore a graphic demo like that.”
Overweight and obese truckers are not just a problem in the industry or just a problem individually. They are a problem for anyone else who winds up sharing road space. “Did you know that overweight truckers were responsible for 13 percent of all fatal occupational injuries in 2010? Or that in 2007 a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report revealed 87 percent of truck crashes were the result of trucker error. Twelve percent were attributed to the driver drifting off to sleep, having a heart attack, going into diabetic shock and so on,” explained Lee.
Were these accidents preventable? “I’d say so,” Lee indicated. “Health issues play a far larger role than we think when it comes down to figuring out why an accident happened in the first place. Between weight issues and fitness issues, as in lack of fitness, an overweight trucker is a ticking time bomb. And yet, when this is pointed out to some drivers, they react like the person telling them was from Mars.”
Of interest is that the U.S. Department of Transportation mandates that truckers pass a certifying medical exam every two years. That exam keeps track of heart health, high blood pressure, sleep disorders and respiratory difficulties. The results of those tests are not very encouraging, but they are not a surprise given that trucking is sedentary.
“Not all truck wrecks are the result of an overweight driver with health issues, but this is something we look at if you call our office about having been in an accident with a big rig. If you have been in a collision with an 18-wheeler, do not wait to retain legal counsel. Evidence needs to preserved before it degrades or vanishes,” added Lee.
The Lee Law Firm
11824 Jollyville Road, Suite 302
Austin, Texas 78759