Drowsy driving is a widely-known cause of commercial truck accidents. Hours of service rules are regulations that were created to set limits on how long commercial truckers could operate their vehicles. These regulations were designed to prevent truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers. Unfortunately, hours of service rules cannot address another common cause of fatigued driving accidents.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that affects millions of people in the US, including truck drivers. Individuals with this condition experience interruptions in breathing while they are sleeping. These interruptions may jolt the person awake, keeping them from receiving a good night’s sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of OSA include excessive daytime drowsiness and trouble concentrating.
Given these symptoms, are truckers with untreated or undiagnosed OSA more likely to crash? The Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health published a study on commercial truck accidents and sleep apnea in 2016. According to the study, drivers with untreated OSA had rates of preventable crashes that were five times higher than drivers without the condition. The study also noted that 20 percent of truck crashes are caused by fatigued driving.
Are Truck Drivers Screened for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
OSA is easy to screen for and treat. At the moment, commercial trucking companies choose whether to screen their drivers. Department of Transportation (DOT) medical examiners may also choose to test drivers. There are no screening rules in place that could simplify the process.
The DOT recently abandoned a rule that would have established guidelines for identifying commercial drivers who are at-risk of suffering from the condition. Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) devices could be used to treat drivers who have OSA. There are also dietary and lifestyle choices that could treat this common condition.
Questions About Legal Rights After a Truck Accident? Call Our Macon Truck Accident Law Firm
Our Macon truck accident law firm has extensive experience helping victims of commercial truck crashes. The Macon truck accident lawyers at McArthur Law Firm offer free consultations. If you have questions about your legal rights to compensation after a truck accident, then please call us or use our online case review form to describe what happened.