I recently wrote a blog about the damage, injuries and fatalities that sick truckers are causing on our roadways. Michigan auto accident lawyer Steve M. Gursten recently wrote this informative article about how Michigan has been listed among the top 12 most sanctioned states in the country that allow truckers with serious medical problems, including seizure disorders, to drive large tractor-trailers. To date, there are no regulations that require truck drivers to carry valid medical certificates.
In the article, Gursten gives an example of a client whose husband was killed in a big rig accident. The truck driver, Charles Dreyer, was reportedly suffering from a seizure disorder and took Tegretol, a powerful epilepsy medication that causes drowsiness and delayed reaction time. This alone should have barred Dreyer from driving any type of vehicle on any interstate, but he was allowed to drive a fully-loaded 150,000-pound gravel truck with two trailers in dangerous, out-of-service condition.
California is no better when it comes to truck accidents. We rank pretty high on the list of states with the highest number of big rig accidents. In 2006, California had about 12,800 big rig accidents resulting in death or injury, according to the most recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which monitors trucking companies. Hundreds and thousands of tractor-trailer and bus drivers carry California licenses despite qualifying for full federal disability and suffering from serious health conditions such as seizures, heart attacks or losing consciousness.
FMCSA has done nothing to implement any of the safety regulations proposed since 2001 to crack down on sick truckers and the companies that employ them. One of these proposed regulations involved setting minimum standards to determine whether truckers are “medically safe” to drive. Another proposed regulation would prevent unfit truckers from looking for doctors who may overlook their medical conditions.
In fact, an Associated Press investigation that we wrote about and Gursten cites, reviewed more than 7.3 million commercial truck driver violations and found that truckers violating federal medical rules can be found in every state. That is bad news for motorists who share the roads with such offenders. Federal regulators need to get their act together and implement the safety regulations proposed years ago to end this serious problem and help limit the amount of avoidable truck accidents that occur on our nation’s highways,.