Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder that can cause those who have it to stop breathing for periods of 10 seconds or longer in their sleep. These pauses in breathing can happen several hundred times a night and, because the body slightly wakes itself up to restart breathing each time, the condition can make people excessively sleepy and unfocused during the day.
The extreme sudden drowsiness, reduced alertness, and slowed reaction times associated with sleep apnea can negatively affect driving performance. This is bad news for the many truck drivers with sleep apnea, as well as everyone else who shares the road with them.
According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Association (ATRI) study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, 28 percent of commercial truck drivers have some form of the disorder.
While a sleep apnea diagnosis doesn't automatically disqualify someone who wants to be a commercial driver, truckers who have potentially dangerous medical conditions are required to undergo a physical and follow their doctor's treatment to the letter. Truck drivers who have their sleep apnea under control can be deemed “medically qualified to drive.” However, despite these regulations, some drivers choose to hide their sleep apnea rather than risk the possibility of losing their commercial driver's license (CDL).
To reduce the number of truck and train accidents caused by medically unfit operators, the FMCSA and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proposed mandatory sleep apnea screenings for commercial drivers and train engineers in 2016. In August of 2017, before the new regulations could be approved by Congress, the Trump administration eliminated the proposal as part of a campaign to reduce regulations.
Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by a medically unfit commercial driver who fell asleep at the wheel, the experienced truck accident personal injury lawyers with Holton Law Firm can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact Holton Law Firm today to schedule a free initial appointment to discuss the details of your case.