PARIS, IL (WTHI) – There are 4.8 million commercial drivers in the United States, and starting today they are facing new federal regulations.
Truck drivers now have to undergo health screenings by a physician certified through the Department of Transportation.
Kennie Rockette makes a stop in Paris Illinois before heading home to St. Louis.
“I’ve been all over the East Coast, and now on my way back home. I’ve got three kids graduating this weekend,” said Rockette.
He has spent the better half of a week on the road; it’s a task he’s used to as a truck driver for the past 17 years.
“Driving a truck sitting behind a wheel all day, weird sleep hours. Sometimes you have to get up in the middle of the night and make a delivery. Sometimes you drive all day to get to where you got to be, and it can be tough on you.”
A tough lifestyle that can lead to dangerous consequences.
“They are more at risk for having diseases such as, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, because they are more sedentary,” said Tiffany Turner, a FNP-C at Paris Community Hospital.
Reasons those who hold a Commercial Drivers License are now required to undergo a screening every two years by a certified medical examiner.
Paris Community Hospital is assisting local drivers in this effort by having three healthcare providers on staff who are listed on the National Registry.
“We look at if they have any kind of sleep disorder, if they are on any kind of narcotics, if they are overweight, if their alcohol levels are high or low. We look at a lot of different things,” said Turner.
Turner adds that truck drivers are seven times more likely to be in an accident.
The new regulations aim not only to promote a healthier lifestyle but ensure the safety of other drivers.
“What they are trying to minimize is the injuries that occur on the highways and the roadways so that everybody is safe,” said Turner.
“It’s a good idea because a lot of these drivers wouldn’t do it if they weren’t forced to do it. Like me, I wouldn’t go unless I have to,” said Rockette.
In 2012 alone there were more than 100,000 people injured in crashes involving commercial trucks, a statistic Rockette doesn’t want to become.
“It will keep us around longer for our families.”
The regulations were set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
All interstate commercial truck and bus drivers must pass a U.S. DOT medical examination at least every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate.
You can find the list of certified medical examiners on the National Registry.