Study identifies risk factors that lead to truck accidents in Chicago

Cellphone use, fatigue and even blood pressure were all linked to an increased risk that a truck driver will be in an accident.

In 2014, an accident in Interstate 88 near Naperville, Illinois, killed a toll worker and seriously injured a state trooper. According to NBC Chicago, a truck had stalled along the East-West Tollway. The toll worker and trooper had been trying to help the stalled truck when another commercial truck slammed into them.

The National Transportation Safety Board recently ruled that the incident was likely due to the commercial truck driver's fatigue, as he admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. A recent study confirms that fatigue is one of the many factors that put truckers at risk of getting into an accident.

The study

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine evaluated certain behaviors and factors associated with crashes among truck drivers. Researchers asked 797 truckers to complete a questionnaire that asked them about crashes in which they had been involved and certain psychosocial elements. Truckers were also asked to include their body measurements, such as height and weight.

The results indicated that many of the participants had been involved in at least one accident, and 16.6 percent have had multiple crashes over their career. Fatigue and cellphone use had strong associations with these accidents, but there were also several other common traits among the truckers such as the following:

  • 24 percent had undiagnosed and untreated high blood pressure
  • 62 percent were obese
  • Many accidents were associated with high pulse pressure

Researchers noted that long hours, heavy lifting, stress and a lack of exercise - which are all common to the trucking industry - could result in the dangerous high pulse pressure and fatigue that many truckers experience.

Preventing the problem

There are a number of ways that the trucking industry is trying to reduce the number of accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has prohibited truckers who travel on the interstate or those who transport hazardous material from using a handheld device while behind the wheel. Further, all commercial motor vehicle drivers are prohibited from texting while driving.

The FMSCA also has guidelines in place that mandate that no driver who is fatigued should be operating a vehicle. Unfortunately, that rule is not enforced as it should be, as tired truckers are still moving across the country every day.

Advocates state that in addition to monitoring how many hours a driver works, drivers must also take it upon themselves to prevent a tragedy. This includes getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, getting proper nutrition and avoiding alcohol.

Texas roads are safer when ever driver behaves responsibly. Anyone who has questions about this matter can consult with an attorney.