Truckers carry a heavy responsibility. Not only are they tasked with delivering the goods we, as consumers, rely on day-in and day-out on a timely basis, but they must also carry out their duties in a safe fashion. This is especially true given how dangerous truck accidents can be. These massive vehicles can crumple passenger vehicles leaving their passengers seriously injured or dead. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration seeks to regulate the trucking industry and ensure that truckers are operating their vehicles safely.
Yet, one issue that is common amongst motorists, including nearly one-third of truckers, is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a medical condition where an individual’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, thereby causing him or her to wake or otherwise be restless. The pauses in breathing can last as long as 10 seconds, and an individual can be subjected to as many as 400 interruptions in a single night.
Sleep apnea can have a tremendous effect on one’s driving ability, too. Of course, those who suffer from this condition are chronically tired and fatigued, which puts them at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Also, these motorists, even when they manage to stay awake, often have decreased performance, concentration and alertness. This can increase the chances that they cause a serious accident that leaves others hurt.
Sadly, federal regulations don’t specifically address sleep apnea in the trucking industry. However, regulations do specify that truckers cannot operate their vehicles if they have a medical condition that affects their ability to safely drive a vehicle. Therefore, truckers who have sleep apnea should disclose that condition to their employer so that preventative actions can be taken. When they don’t, strict penalties may be imposed. In many truck accident cases, the best way to seek some sort of accountability is to pursue a personal injury claim, which may include a lawsuit against the negligent trucker who caused one’s injuries, as well as his or her employer. Those truck accident victims who are interested in learning more about how to gather evidence, including medical evidence, to support their claims may want to discuss the matter with an attorney of their choosing.