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Sick Truckers Forge Bogus Health Certificates to Stay on the Road

D.C. attorneys Lewis & Tompkins provide legal counsel for those who have been injured in trucking accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured by a commercial truck driver, contact Lewis & Tompkins for a free legal consultation today.

A truck accident involving a big truck and a smaller vehicle or pedestrians, often has very tragic consequences. A big truck can weigh more than 80,000 pounds and can go up to 75 feet in length. Due to their size and weight, the forward momentum of a truck is much greater than that of a car, which means it takes twice as long for a truck to come to a stop. Because of the way that they are built, visibility depends on an array of mirrors, and the blind spots of your average truck are enormous.

In short, trucks are dangerous, and even more so if they are not operated by fit and competent drivers. This is why the recent hearing at the House of Representatives was so disturbing.

In a hearing at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, lawmakers discovered that certificates of health for truck drivers are very easy to fake, mainly due to the fact that there is no real agency or program in place to authenticate them. As a result, commercial truck drivers who have health problems have no problems staying on the road, even if they have conditions that could lead to them suffering strokes and heart attacks while behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle.

The hearings made public the results of a study in which 614 health certificates were taken from drivers at random stops in Ohio, Illinois and California. A study of these certificates showed that only 407 of them were valid, and the rest were either complete forgeries or had been altered in some way.

One Ohio doctor that testified during the hearing claimed that medical transcription forgery was so commonplace that “… no one gets alarmed by it anymore.”

There is a reason that boat captains and airplane pilots have to pass medical inspections on a regular basis. Boats and planes are too big and bulky to leave anything to chance. Airline personnel and boat pilots are required to present clean bills of health even though they have co-pilots and others on hand ready to take over in the event that someone becomes incapacitated. Nobody wants a plane to crash or an oil tanker to run aground because the pilot or captain passes out.

Truckers lead solitary existences, and they are the only ones in charge behind the wheel. If the driver of a multi-ton vehicle loses consciousness or becomes incapacitated behind the wheel, the end result could be catastrophic. We have seen evidence of cases like this before.

In 1999, the driver of a motor coach outside of New Orleans was behind the wheel despite having life-threatening heart and kidney problems. Witnesses described him as slumping forward in his seat just before the bus ran off the road. This accident left 22 people dead, and despite the heart and kidney problems of the driver, he was still in possession of a certificate that gave him a clean bill of health.

Forging a certificate of health is incredibly dangerous behavior, not only to the drivers of the vehicles but also to those who have to share the roads with them. The health of commercial drivers should be vigorously regulated, and any driver found with a fake medical certificate should not only face loss of their license, but criminal prosecution as well.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a D.C. area truck accident, and you require the services of a truck accident lawyer, contact the offices of Lewis & Tompkins today.