Another reason not to drive

As if gas prices weren't enough to discourage us from getting behind the wheel. The AP gives us reasons to watch out for who might be driving that big rig up ahead.

Tractor-trailer and bus drivers in the United States have suffered seizures, heart attacks or unconscious spells behind the wheel that led to deadly crashes on highways. Hundreds of thousands of drivers carry commercial licenses even though they also qualify for full federal disability payments, according to a new U.S. safety study obtained by The Associated Press.

The problems threatening highway travelers persist despite years of government warnings and hundreds of deaths and injuries blamed on commercial truck and bus drivers who blacked out, collapsed or suffered major health problems behind the wheels of vehicles that can weigh 40 tons or more. . . .

The U.S. agency responsible for cracking down on unfit truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, acknowledges it hasn't completed any of eight recommendations that U.S. safety regulators have proposed since 2001.

Just one of several examples:

A Florida bus driver who suffers from lung disease and uses three daily inhalers to control breathing told congressional investigators that he "occasionally blacks out and forgets things." He works as a substitute driver despite not having a medical certificate, and his commercial license expires in 2010.

The story says the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on the situation on Thursday.

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