In June 2020, FMCSA published a new report from a multi-year study of 21,000 truck drivers aimed at identifying the most critical behaviors and driver characteristics (e.g., age, seat belt use, moving violation history, medical and work history, etc.) that increase crash risk. The study, conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) between 2010 and 2018, was one of the first to prospectively assess how various factors affect crash risk. One 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. 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 highlighted in the report are: (1) the medical certification requirements for truck driver are working; and, (2) treating health conditions results in healthier AND safer drivers.

VTTI’s analyses also showed that truck drivers who wore their seat belt “less than always” were significantly more likely to be convicted of a moving violation (between 45% and 234% more likely). This VTTI finding supports (and perhaps confirms) other behavioral research that found a strong relationship between lack of seat belt use and the performance of risky driving behaviors (e.g., speeding, following too closely, etc.). If you identify your drivers who don’t always wear a seat belt, you’ve found your risk-takers who will very likely create safety problems for your company. Here’s a link to the study.