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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.

Truck Defects and Accidents

Sufficient comprehension and skills are required for a person to be legally permitted to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), like a tow truck and a bus, but more so a truck, also called an 18-wheeler or big rig. Trucks are generally 70 feet long and about 40 tons or 80,000 lbs. heavy, therefore, acting as possible threats to the several other smaller automobiles these share the road with.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 mandates that only qualified drivers are issued a commercial driver’s license, while people who are untrained or unsafe are taken out of the road; this is to assist and ensure road safety at all times. Adherence to the Act is enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the United States Department of Transportation. Besides this, the FMCSA also implements other rules which will help decrease the likelihood of truck accidents, like the 11-hour maximum driving period, which can be part of a trucker’s 14-hr duty. This maximum driving time regulation contains a 10 consecutive hour off-duty period to make sure each time drivers get behind the wheel that they do not suffer from sleepiness or fatigue.

With truck driver fatigue effectively addressed, the Department of Transport has the ability to give attention to other variables that are similarly considered critical to highway safety: truck defect and malfunction, particularly brake malfunction. This is because brake failure was recognized as another major cause of accidents involving trucks, mishaps that typically lead to deadly outcomes or severe injuries. Variables that constitute a brake failure include overheated brakes, thin or worn out brake parts, brakes suffused with oil or fat, or worn tires.

Where trucks or 18-wheelers are concerned, brakes are among their most critical functions. To maintain these vehicles’ braking systems as secure and effective, the federal government has created criteria to which manufacturers must firmly comply. Federal requirements demand that the braking system must enable a vehicle to slow till it comes to a full stop at a rate unique to a force and its dimension according to its weight. Failure to meet with federal standards can result to something that is significantly worse than only offending government rules; it can lead to a catastrophic road accident that kill others and will seriously hurt some individuals.

Considering the important role large trucks play in the nation’s economy, it is almost impossible to avoid sharing the road with them. But as a result of the numerous incorporated physical and computer systems that these trucks use, any defect or failure may potentially lead to a collision, which could totally and instantly alter the life span of the victim and his/her family. Therefore, in case of an accident, it’s completely recommended that the sufferer get in touch with a Texas truck accident attorney immediately for the legal actions that he/she has the right to choose in addition to to ensure that he or she receives the total quantity of compensation that can cover all present and future damages resulting from the accident.