There is now data to support what many in the trucking industry had previously believed. The study conducted by Stephen Burks with the University of Minnesota-Morris, who is a former trucker and a behavioral economist, worked with trucking giant, Schneider National, for a decade. The conclusion reached was unequivocal. Obese truckers are 43% to 55% more likely to be involved in an accident than those truckers who have a normal body mass index (BMI).
The study involved questioning some 744 rookie drivers with Schneider National for their weight and height. Each driver’s BMI was calculated from that information to determine whether it had any bearing on their crash rates. The drivers with a BMI of more than 25 were considered to be overweight and those with a BMI of more than 30 were considered to be obese.
After observing the drivers on the road for two years, it became clear that those truckers with a BMI of more than 35 were 43% to 55% more likely to be involved in an accident than those truckers with a normal BMI. Those drivers with a BMI higher than 35 were considered to be “severely” obese.
Another concern for truckers with a BMI of more than 35 is that they are more prone to having sleep apnea. Because of the long hours and the strain of meeting deadlines, sleep apnea for truckers can lead to tragic accidents and catastrophic injuries or fatalities. Sleep apnea is a medical condition that results in abnormal breathing or stopped breathing while asleep. Sometimes people with sleep apnea will simply fall asleep while driving or doing other tasks because of daytime sleepiness.
When a trucker is driving an 80,000 pound 18-wheeler on a roadway at 65 to 70 miles per hour, it is imperative the he or she be able to perform their duties without drowsiness, fatigue, driver inattention or reduced reaction time. According to Charles Czeisler, a Harvard Medical School Professor, a trucker with sleep apnea is 242% more likely to have an accident.
As a result of the study connecting truckers’ BMI and sleep apnea to the increased probability of accidents, Schneider National is proactive in its search to detect drivers who have sleep apnea. By doing so, the firm has reduced the number of accidents approximately 30%.
Make no mistake about it, the typical passenger car or truck weighing less than 5,000 pounds is no match for an 80,000 pound tractor trailer. The collision between the two usually results in massive destruction of property, catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
If you or someone you know have suffered from disabling injuries or lost loved ones in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you need to seek the advice of a Chicago attorney who is experienced in handling these massive accidents. The insurance company for the trucking company will have experienced lawyers attempting to place blame for the accident on someone other than their driver.