Unfit Commercial Drivers End Up On The Roads Due To Dangerous Loophole
According to a CBS News investigation, unfit commercial drivers end up driving commercial vehicles on the roads as a result of a dangerous loophole.
The investigation identified that commercial drivers fail to disclose dangerous medical conditions to the authorities or their employer, which should keep them off the road. You never know that the driver passing by in the next lane may be suffering from a medical condition that should keep him off the road. However, many drivers fail to inform the authorities about the condition, which can result in serious, often fatal accidents.
These drivers have found a detour around the safety regulations. An accident involving a greyhound bus on Ohio Interstate is an example of such an incident. One of the passengers was trying to communicate with the driver, when she sensed something was wrong, but the driver was unresponsive. The bus tumbled after it drove off the Interstate, resulting in serious injuries to the passengers. The bus driver later told police that he blacked out. However, he didn’t inform the police that he had been told to get a sleep apnea test by a Department of Transportation Medical Examiner.
If such a condition is left untreated, it causes fatigue, which disqualifies a driver from driving a commercial vehicle, like a passenger bus. The driver never got that test until a court ordered it.
Another incident also involved a greyhound bus, which collided with a pickup. That driver also later disclosed that he did not report his sleep apnea and had stopped taking treatment as well.
The medical eligibility of commercial drivers is determined by filling out a questionnaire which is used as the basis for a physical. A DOT Certified Professional also performs a physical exam in case of commercial drivers. This professional could be a chiropractor or a doctor. The investigation found out that many commercial drivers left out details of any illnesses or medical problems when filling the form. In most of these cases, an accident may prompt a review of the driver’s medical conditions. That investigation then sheds light on any medical conditions which were not properly disclosed in the medical form. Some drivers may be in a habit of using alcohol frequently, or may have a habit of drug use, which is not disclosed in the medical form.
Self-reporting is the basis of all these medical forms, as it assumes that the person is being truthful. The government is trying to improve the situation by having medical examiners do a better job. They are also considering the fact whether sleep disorder testing should be made part of the screening process of commercial drivers.
Since the trucking industry is suffering from lack of manpower, it has resulted in the lack of medical examinations given to these truck drivers. According to another study, FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has provided around 2400 medical exemptions to commercial drivers, who had serious medical conditions like diabetes, vision loss, hearing loss, and even seizures. These conditions will typically disqualify someone from driving any motor vehicle, let alone a commercial vehicle.
Even though many trucking companies know that most of their drivers should not be behind the wheel driving, they look away from the issue at hand. Even though they know these drivers are too dangerous, they still put them behind the wheel simply because they need to get paid at the end of the day.
Despite the issues, governments are still relying on drivers to self-report their medical conditions, instead of testing them before giving them a commercial license.
News Source: www.CBSNews.com