America’s population is getting older. This trend is noticeable in the trucking industry. Older workers are enrolling in truck driving school after retiring from their former careers. In many trucking companies, more than 30 percent of the drivers are over the age of 50.
 
Unfortunately, more than 60 percent of working adults between the ages of 50 and 64 have a chronic medical condition that requires regular use of medication. Fifty-one percent of medications have serious side effects that may impair driving. A recent study looked at blood pressure and cholesterol lowering drugs because they are the prescription medications most often used by adults over the age of 50.
 
Side-effects of blood pressure medications:
 

•    Slow heart beat
•    Confusion
•    Depression
•    Low blood pressure
•    Impotence
•    Sleep disorders
•    Drowsiness
•    Light sensitivity
•    Headaches
•    Dizziness
•    Irritability
•    Blurred Vision
•    Heart failure
•    Weakness
 
Side-effects of cholesterol medications

 
•    Amnesia
•    Suppression of immune system
•    Liver damage
•    Muscle destruction
•    Tendonitis
•    Cancer While not all of these side-effects directly affect driving ability, patients often take more medications to counteract the side-effects and those medications may also impair driving ability resulting in tragic truck accidents.  A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study of large truck crashes found that prescription drug use is an associated factor in 28.7 percent of commercial truck accidents.  Over-the-counter drug use was an associated factor in 19.4% of large truck wrecks.
 
While it is important that large truck companies do not discriminate based on age, it is also important that they screen out drivers who are taking potentially dangerous medications or who have health problems that could cause a danger to others.  For example, last week, a Metro Bus driver in Webster Groves, Missouri suffered a diabetic reaction and drove into a tree.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.  Can you imagine if the driver was driving a load of flammable cargo down I-70 at rush hour?

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.