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Are most work-related truck accidents tied to driver health?

In recent years, the media has spent a great amount of time reporting on the link between truck driver health and accident risk. In particular, the media, safety experts and federal regulators have been concerned that when truck drivers develop sleep apnea as a result of a sedentary and overweight lifestyle that they place themselves at a greater risk for fatigue-related crashes. As sleep apnea affects sleep quality, this is not an unreasonable conclusion to draw.

However, recent analysis indicates that driver health may not impact an individual’s risk for work-related truck accidents in the ways that experts suspect that it does. This analysis was conducted by an individual who has had 30 years of experience researching traffic safety matters. He presented his findings last month at the Zonar Systems user conference.

This expert analyzed numerous crash causation and trucker fatigue studies before concluding that fatigue and driver health play different roles in single-vehicle crashes as opposed to multi-vehicle crashes. Specifically, truck driver fatigue can be more consistently categorized as a proximal cause in single-truck collisions than it can be in truck crashes that involve more than one vehicle.

It seems that driver health and fatigue do factor into whether an individual truck driver may be at higher risk of being involved in an accident. However, it may not be a good indicator of whether an individual is likely to be involved in a multi-vehicle crash specifically. Regardless, it is important for truck drivers to obtain adequate rest and to prioritize their health in order to mitigate crash risk generally.

Source: Fleet Owner, "Connecting driver health/fatigue to crash risk," Sean Kilcarr, April 29, 2014

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