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Diabetes: Not an excuse for causing deadly truck accidents

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Did you know that federal rules about commercial vehicle operation have loosened to include more diabetic drivers? In years past, people with insulin-dependent diabetes were prevented from obtaining commercial drivers licenses for interstate transport. Now, however, new rules have opened the commercial driving field for Type 1 diabetics and other similar drivers. Although statistics are not very comprehensive with regards to whether diabetic drivers cause many New York City truck accidents, the potential for danger certainly exists. Drivers who suffer from certain health conditions such as insulin-dependent diabetes may lose focus, become disoriented and cause accidents because of low blood sugar or other critical situations.

So, how do people with diabetes become eligible to obtain their commercial driver’s license? Prior to 2005, these drivers had difficulty obtaining an interstate driving license, but those strict prohibitions have since been loosened. Now, diabetic drivers do not have to have three years of commercial intrastate driving experience before they qualify for interstate licenses. Further, the previous program had required evidence of good blood sugar control — now, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration simply has recommendations, not mandates, to address blood sugar control.

How do these drivers get behind the wheel in the first place? Commercial drivers who have diabetes must obtain a special dispensation from the federal government. This involves a 57-point examination and screening that also includes compliance with operational guidelines and accountability provisions. Diabetic drivers have overcome a significant amount of workplace discrimination and are now able to operate commercial vehicles in environments where driving had been nearly impossible.

What does this mean for you? Although most diabetic commercial drivers are responsible about their blood sugar control, the truth is that some are dangerous behind the wheel. These drivers are negligent about their blood sugar control, and they can be just as deadly as a distracted truck driver. Every trucking accident victim deserves financial compensation for medical expenses and other costs, even if the truck driver was experiencing a diabetic emergency at the time of the crash.

Source: American Diabetes Association, “Frequently Asked Questions About Commercial Driver’s Licenses,” accessed Oct. 06, 2015

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