New Regulations Regarding Driver Health

New regulations could ensure safer roadways by requiring health exams for commercial truck drivers. It is no secret that the truck driving lifestyle isn’t exactly healthy. Truck drivers are often forced to sit for long periods of time and eat unhealthy fast food. Finding time for exercise is nearly impossible. The American Diabetic Association reported that 86 percent of truck drivers are overweight, and 66 percent of those drivers are considered obese. There are a wide variety of health ailments that go along with obesity. New regulations may keep obese drivers off of the road.

Medical emergencies related to poor health are not uncommon for truck drivers. Heart attacks and diabetes are common ailments for long haul truckers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to enact new rules for commercial truck drivers. Under the new rules, drivers will be required to have physical exams to determine fitness and health. The idea is to keep unhealthy drivers off of the road, thus keeping the roads safer. They want to screen for conditions that could potentially pose a danger to other drivers. Some of these conditions can even be deadly. A heart attack could potentially cause a driver to lose control of his or her truck. Those at risk for heart attacks or extreme fatigue may not pass the exams.

License renewal could be difficult for some drivers. Many advocates of the new regulations hope to encourage truck drivers to make healthier choices. Dr. Clayton Cowl, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, sees many truck drivers. Cowl explains how the illnesses related to a sedentary lifestyle, like truck driving, can be dangerous to other drivers. Cowl sees high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and sleep-related disorders in many of his patients. Dr. Cowl hopes these new regulations encourage long-haul truckers to take better care of themselves. He also knows drivers aren’t the only ones to blame. Fast food restaurants and convenience stores should offer healthier meal options.

Under the new regulations, healthy drivers would receive comprehensive physical exams every two years. Drivers who are not deemed fit will have trouble renewing their licenses, or they may have to undergo more frequent examinations. Dr. Cowl coaches other doctors on these new regulations. In addition to being a medical doctor, he also has a commercial trucking license. He understands the challenges that truck drivers face. He discusses lifestyle changes with his patients. A healthy diet and exercise aren’t the easiest things to come by, and Dr. Cowl understands that.

These new rules may be upsetting for some drivers. Others, like 57-year-old Tom Gilbertson, think the new rules are a step in the right direction. Gilbertson has struggled with medical conditions in the past that could have been dangerous to his driving. His conditions are now under control, and he received a good bill of health at his last physical. These rules could help to motivate drivers who are not as healthy as they could be. Implementing healthier strategies is a good place for drivers to start.


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