On January 15, 2019, FMCSA held its annual “Analysis, Research & Technology” briefing in Washington, DC. During the 4-hour briefing, the Agency asked a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) researcher to report new findings from a multi-year study aimed at identifying the most critical driver characteristics, such as medical or work histories, that increase CMV crash risk. This study, initiated in 2010 and completed in 2018, examined a wide array of driver and situational factors to determine their relationship to crashes. An important research question studied was, “which medical conditions and treatments had an impact on future crash and/or moving violation risk?” VTTI found that:

  1. Drivers being treated for medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), were no riskier than drivers without the same medical conditions. And, in some age groups, treated drivers were less risky than those who did not have the medical condition;
  2. OSA treatment reduced crash risk by approximately 40% (compared to a baseline crash risk), and non-treatment of OSA increased risk by approximately 200%; and
  3. Hypertension (high blood pressure) treatment reduced crash risk by approximately 5% to 40%, and non-treatment increased risk by approximately 30% to 200%.

Two study conclusions were also highlighted by VTTI: (1) the requirements for medical certification are working; and, (2) treating health conditions results in healthier AND safer drivers. FMCSA expects to publish the full and final research report by early Spring 2019. We plan to highlight additional study findings in this newsletter when the final report is published.