The Dangers of Sleep Apnea and Truck Drivers

January 10, 2017 | truck accident

In order to receive a commercial driver’s license, a driver must undergo a medical evaluation and have a doctor state they are in adequate health to safely operate a large commercial vehicle. However, there are certain potentially risky health conditions that are not always screened for, diagnosed, or treated in commercial truck drivers. One such condition is obstructive sleep apnea. 

An estimated 22 million people in the United States live with sleep apnea, which is a condition that causes a person to stop breathing many times while they sleep. When they stop breathing, their body forces them to wake up briefly, which can cause hundreds of interruptions of sleep every night. This can result in fatigue throughout the day.

While being tired may not seem like that big of a risk, drivers with disrupted sleep due to sleep apnea can cause devastating accidents. For example, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently revealed that the conductor of the train that crashed in New Jersey last fall had an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea and that fatigued conducting may have contributed to the crash. While airline pilots are required to be screened and properly treated for sleep apnea, there is no such requirement for commercial truckers.

Truck drivers often have many risk factors for sleep apnea and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that about 28 percent of commercial drivers have the condition. Because of the risks of fatigued driving, the FMCSA has been discussing making a specific requirement that every commercial driver be regularly screened for sleep apnea and if diagnosed, they are required to undergo treatment for the condition that will help improve their sleep. Until this requirement is enacted, however, there are likely many truck drivers on the road with undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea who may fall asleep behind the wheel and cause serious accidents and injuries.

Consult with an Experienced Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyer Today

At the Fountain Law Firm, P.C., we have successfully helped many truck accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries and related losses. To make sure that you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled, it is important to have an experienced truck accident attorney handling your case. Attorney Merry Fountain can help you today by meeting in her office or by meeting in your home. Call Merry Fountain anytime at 1-888-242-HURT (4878) for a free consultation.