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Commercial Drivers Hiding Health Conditions Cause Crashes

Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations that were reviewed and revamped in 2014 have made it difficult for commercial drivers with certain debilitating medical conditions to keep their jobs. Since the implementation of the new regulations, approximately 70,000 truckers have been disqualified from service. While this is unfortunate for them, it should mean safer roads and highways for everyone. But some commercial drivers, like truckers and bus drivers, are using a loophole to get around their disqualification, according to an investigation conducted by CBS News.

The investigation was sparked after a Greyhound bus crash in Detroit resulted in more than 30 passenger injuries, some of them severe and life-threatening. Dash camera footage reveals the bus driver – Mr. Garrett – blacked out behind the wheel moments before the accident. In an allegedly falsified statement, Garrett claimed he choked on his coffee and blacked out after trying to cough it up, but not coughing can be heard on the video footage.

The truth of the situation becomes clearer when Garrett’s medical history is examined. Several weeks prior to the devastating bus accident, he was tested for possibly having sleep apnea, a medical condition that would disqualify him from employment as a bus driver because it can cause deep fatigue and fainting spells. Only two days before the crash, he was examined again and allegedly chose not to tell his physician about all of his symptoms of sleep apnea, stopping the doctor from making an official diagnosis or ordering additional testing. Since the accident, Garret has been fully evaluated and disqualified from commercial driving due to the fact that he indeed does have sleep apnea.

Keeping Medical Secrets is a Form of Negligence

CBS investigators determined that while the DOT disqualifies drivers with certain health conditions, it does very little to actually enforce those rules. There are currently no federal records in place to track how many commercial accidents are caused by the driver’s medical condition, despite the fact that certain state records indicate that hundreds of commercial vehicle collisions in 2013 and 2014 alone were caused by disqualifying conditions. Until the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) puts a more effective system in place to track and diagnose debilitating medical conditions in drivers, people will remain at an unfair risk of injury while driving.

For a full article on this story, be sure to visit CBS News’s site by clicking here. For legal help after you have been hurt by a commercial truck, bus, or other vehicle, call 985.796.2245 to request a free consultation from our Louisiana personal injury attorneys at Anderson & Boutwell.