Truck Drivers and Sleep Apnea

Sep 20, 2016 Truck Accidents    Uncategorized

Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC

With so many trucks on the road, truck driver fatigue is a growing concern in the United States. The Department of Transportation has identified fatigued driving as a leading factor in accidents involving large commercial trucks, which kill 4,000 people each year. One common reason for truck driver fatigue is a medical condition known as sleep apnea, which causes interruptions in breathing during sleep.

Sleep apnea often leads to excessive daytime fatigue that can negatively impact a person’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. In fact, studies have shown that drivers with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of being involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident. Research has shown that commercial drivers who receive treatment for sleep apnea experience a 73 percent reduction in preventable driving accidents.

What is Sleep Apnea?

There are two types of sleep apnea. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the airway collapses or becomes blocked. This can cause shallow breathing or to temporarily pause your breathing. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may wake up a few times or hundreds of times a night. Central sleep apnea is much less common and occurs when the brain fails to communicate signals to your breathing muscles.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea tends to be a chronic condition and often goes undiagnosed. Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include the following:

  • Loud snoring
  • Chronic daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches when you wake up
  • Feelings or irritability or depression
  • Mood swings or personality changes
  • Dry mouth when you wake up
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Shortness of breath, choking, or gasping that awakens you throughout the night

Dangers of Truck Drivers with Sleep Apnea

Commercial truck drivers are at a greater risk of developing sleep apnea because of the nature of their work hours, poor nutrition, and sedentary lifestyles. In fact, a recent study by the FMCSA revealed that nearly one-third of truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. According to the FMCSA, moderate to severe sleep apnea is a disqualifying condition because it interferes with the ability to safely drive a vehicle.

A recent Harvard study found that truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea had a rate of preventable crashes five times that of drivers without the condition. Sleep apnea can impact driving performance in the following ways:

  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Problems focusing or concentrating
  • Impaired judgment
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Decreased alertness

The FMCSA is considering whether to require all commercial truck drivers to be screened for sleep apnea and mandating treatment for those who are diagnosed with the condition. It is estimated that 80 percent of obstructive sleep apnea cases go undiagnosed in the United States.

Contact an Ohio Truck Accident Lawyer Today

If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a large commercial truck, contact the skilled Ohio truck accidents lawyers at Kisling, Nestico & Redick for help. Our attorneys have helped countless victims recover the compensation they deserve and as one of the largest personal injury firms in Ohio, we have the resources to investigate complex truck accident cases and take on large trucking or insurance companies on your behalf.

Call us at 1-800-HURT-NOW today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Ohio truck accident attorneys. At KNR, we believe in no recovery, no fees — you will never be asked to pay a fee unless you successfully obtain compensation for your case.

Skip to content