Can a Sleeping Disorder Lead to Truck Accidents?

Everyone knows that you should never drink alcohol and then operate a motor vehicle because it impairs your judgment, makes things blurry, and can disrupt the motor skills necessary to make turns or even simply stay in the center of a lane. However, being sleepy can impair your ability to drive just as much as being tipsy, but there is much less public discourse about it. Because truck drivers are on the road much longer than the average person, they are more at risk of being sleepy at the wheel, and the results of this can be disastrous.

According to an article in the StarTribune, researchers at The University of Minnesota campus at Morris found that more than a quarter of all truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea, which prevents them from breathing properly while they sleep. Sleep apnea has been shown to lead to increased fatigue and feeling tired during waking hours. In addition, they also found that truckers who had diagnosed sleep apnea but refused to get it treated had, on average, 70 preventable serious crashes a year (100,000 miles driven), compared to only 14 serious crashes a year by truckers who either did not have sleep apnea or had sleep apnea but followed a treatment plan. The treatment plan given to this control group was an electronically monitored device worn while sleeping that regulates breathing. Another study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that 28% of truck drivers have some form of sleep apnea. And commercial truck drivers seem to be particularly at risk for sleep-related accidents; from 2004 to 2013 sleepy truck drivers were responsible for 8,900 traffic deaths according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This does not even take into account how many other crashes must have happened in that nine year period.

This article was from March 2016, but that does not make it any less worrying. It is incredibly important that truck drivers be getting enough sleep, so there should be government mandates that require commercial trucking companies to at least screen for sleep apnea and require their drivers to get treatment, but I believe they should go a step further and provide for the treatment themselves to ensure their truckers are getting the help they need. Surely a small breathing device will be a beneficial investment if it prevents the loss of potentially millions of dollars worth of cargo and property damage.

Driving while tired is a huge cause for the vast number of traffic deaths that occur every year in the United States. Whether you have been affected by someone who caused an accident due to being sleepy, or if you’re a truck driver who caused an accident, lawyers like Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. suggest seeking out an attorney specifically trained for semi-truck accidents who will help you learn about your rights. Trucking companies should always provide plenty of resources to their drivers so that they feel rested every time they drive.

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