Sleep Apnea and Increased Commercial Truck Accidents

Truck accidents caused by sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is defined medically as a decrease in airflow due to recurring partial or complete obstruction of a person’s upper airway. The body reacts to this initially through responses like pronounced snoring. Ultimately, a person stops breathing for fairly brief periods of time. OSA occurs while a person is sleeping.

Truckers sleep apnea

OSA can have a significant impact on various aspects of a person’s life. Included on the list of life functions affected by OSA is a person’s ability to drive a commercial semi-truck safely. The profound fatigue associated with OSA impairs a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.

The Prevalence of OSA

A significant segment of the population suffers from obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. According to studies by the National Institutes of Health, 9 percent of women and an alarming 26 percent of men suffer from OSA.

The overweight or obese individual is more likely to suffer from OSA. With the projected increase in the number of overweight or obese people in the United States, the number suffering from OSA will increase.

Awareness of OSA

A majority of individuals who suffer from OSA are not diagnosed. They have no idea they suffer from the condition. As a result, they have taken no action to address the problem. In many cases, OSA is initially detected by a significant other, because of the profound problems with snoring.

Truck Drivers and OSA

A recent study of commercial truck drivers by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Morris, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, concluded that truck drivers with untreated OSA have a preventable accident rate five times greater than truckers unafflicted with the condition.

An estimated 20 percent of all accidents involving big rigs are thought to be caused by sleepy, drowsy, or fatigued drivers. OSA is the most common cause of excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, including with commercial truck drivers.

Proposed Sleep Apnea Screening

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering the possibility of implementing required sleep apnea screening of all drivers under its jurisdiction. Also, the FMCSA is pondering regulations that require commercial drug drivers diagnosed with OSA to obtain treatment.

The failure to get appropriate treatment for sleep apnea would result in commercial truck driving losing his or her ability to operate a big rig.

If You Are Hurt in a Trucking Accident

When commercial truck drivers have an accident with other vehicles the odds of injury or worse are fairly significant.

Call our outstanding team of 18 wheeler accident attorneys at (281) 893-0760 for a no obligation consultation on your rights and options.

Resources:

National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2727690/

Harvard School of Public Health: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/truck-drivers-sleep-disorders-crashes/

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