Medically unfit truck drivers still navigating US roadways

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According to the latest stats, nearly 4,000 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2014, a 5-percent decrease from 2013. While the decline is certainly good news, a recent report by ‘CBS This Morning’ featuring Steven Gursten of Michigan Auto Law shows that some of these deadly crashes may have been prevented if authorities did a better job at screening unfit drivers.

“As an attorney I see medically unfit drivers causing accidents all the time,” Steven Gursten, the founder of Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, told CBS correspondent Scott Pelley during an interview. “I’ve learned to look very closely at driver personnel files and medical fitness to drive commercial trucks from many of the serious truck accidents I litigate.”

According to the report, commercial drivers are required to pass a health screening in order to drive. Regulators overhauled the system in 2014 and have disqualified roughly 70,000 truckers since then, out of some 8.5 million. However, the process is somewhat flawed. That’s because it requires a trucker to be honest about something that could cost him his job.

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“For the trucking companies, they want to look the other way, even though they know these truckers really should not be behind the wheel because they’re too dangerous for everybody else on the road. But they need to put drivers behind the wheel so they can get paid,” explained Gursten.

The network’s investigation found cases where drivers left off dangerous medical conditions from the DOT medical form, which the driver is expected to fill out truthfully. For example, a dashcam video showed Greyhound driver Curtis Woods slamming into a pickup, killing the driver. He later admitted he stopped using the machine to treat his sleep apnea and even hid his condition.

“These truckers should not be behind the wheel,” Gursten stressed.

‘CBS This Morning’ has reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation says safety is its top priority and fraudulently obtaining a medical certificate is illegal. The American Trucking Association has called aspects of the DOT program troubling and in need of further reform. – USNewswire

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