Fatigue is considered to be a significant contributor to trucking accidents as many drivers do not get enough quality sleep. A common cause of fatigue is sleep apnea. Trucking accident attorneys warn that If you suffer from sleep apnea, you could suffer from drowsy driving that could result in a deadly crash.
Based on the latest research on sleep apnea, there has also been more consideration by safety organizations and trucking accident lawyers on how to address this problem.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that causes a person’s breathing to stop and start as they sleep. Due to this interruption in smooth breathing, those affected frequently suffer from poor sleep, fatigue, and other health-related problems.
It is most prevalent in smokers, those who are obese, anyone lacking in physical fitness or eat a bad diet, or those with poor sleep habits. Trucking accident attorneys understand that some people, including commercial truck drivers, may be more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, putting them at a greater risk of trucking accidents.
How Does It Affect Driving?
One of the main side effects suffered by drivers with untreated sleep apnea is fatigue. Poor quality sleep caused by breathing interruptions means waking up not rested and getting behind the wheel of the truck unrefreshed.
As a result, trucking accident lawyers know that cognitive abilities and reaction times can be affected as can the ability to make good driving decisions. Recent sleep apnea research reveals that it is five times more likely to cause trucking accidents if a driver does not seek appropriate treatment - and many do not.
Should Sleep Apnea Be Federally Regulated?
Although it is a condition that could lead to deadly crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not currently regulate sleep apnea. Still, it is specified as a condition that the FMSCA, most commercial carriers, and trucking accident attorneys recognize as a driving impairment.
The administration gives companies the right to test drivers and keep them off the road if they do not pass sleep tests or are not actively undergoing treatment. While this has resulted in some objections including a lawsuit claiming there is no direct connection between sleep apnea and truck wrecks, the Supreme Court rejected this reasoning due to the known relationship between sleep apnea, fatigue, and trucking accidents.
What Should You Do If You Have Sleep Apnea?
If you are a truck driver and think you might suffer from sleep apnea, trucking accident lawyers who deal with clients injured in accidents caused by this condition recommend that you seek a medical diagnosis and follow through with the prescribed treatment. This may involve using a CPAP machine to regulate breathing while you sleep.
By taking a proactive step in treating sleep apnea, you will be healthier, more alert, and be able to satisfy an employer’s safety protocols to stay on the road. Most importantly, research shows that with treatment, the risk of being involved in an accident is no higher than those who do not suffer from sleep apnea.
Driving a tractor trailer takes skill and requires a driver to be rested and in good health. Sleep apnea is a treatable condition that when left untreated, can cause fatigue that leads to devastating trucking accidents. To avoid complications due to this condition, trucking accident attorneys strongly suggest that you discuss your condition and your job with a doctor and begin treatment right away!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190