In recent posts, this blog has discussed the dangers that large trucks pose for motorists on American highways. Truck-related fatalities are by no means limited to those sharing the road with truckers. Truck drivers themselves are at risk each time they get behind the wheel.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 14 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks in New York in 2014. Some may have been truck drivers themselves. This number also does not take into account truck drivers from New York who were traveling in other states and involved in fatal accidents.
It is already well-known that many truck drivers are chronically sleep-deprived. Driving long hours on little sleep is hazardous for anyone. However, the “trucker lifestyle” may contribute to numerous health and safety risks that put truck drivers in danger, states io9. For example, the long hours they put in behind the wheel mean that few truckers are able to get the exercise they need. Sitting for hours at a time every day can put someone at an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, heart problems and other health risks. Truck drivers often get their meals on the road. Fast food, diner meals and convenience store junk food can hardly be considered nutritious, and can contribute to the same negative health effects already listed.
How do these hazards factor into a legal standpoint? Health conditions caused by an unhealthy lifestyle may cause an unforeseen emergency, such as losing consciousness or having a heart attack while driving. These issues may put the lives of others at risk, in addition to the affected trucker. Also, in some cases, trucking companies may be found liable for encouraging their drivers to spend more hours on the road than is safe or permissible by law.