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Are truck drivers with sleep apnea a danger?

Drowsy driving truck accident attorney

Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially fatal sleep disorder that involves loud snoring and repeated stops and starts when breathing.

The condition affects about four percent of the population. According to an article in Freight Waves, however, it affects up to 35 percent of truck drivers.

The article identifies three types of sleep apnea. These include:

  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): The brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles involved in breathing.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): The throat muscles and mouth palate relax and collapse during sleep. This results in blocked airways.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome (CSAS): Involves both CSA and OSA.

How does sleep apnea affect truck drivers?

OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea to affect truck drivers. Those who suffer from OSA may only receive fragmented sleep. As a result, they may never obtain deep sleep (which allows for physical rest) or dream sleep (which allows for mental, cognitive, and emotional rest).

For example, those who have OSA may lie in bed for several hours, but due to the frequent interruption to breathing, many only receive small amounts of quality sleep. Truckers who suffer from OSA are at a 250 percent greater chance of being involved in a crash than those who receive adequate sleep.

OSA can also impact truckers’ ability to drive, even when they don't actually fall asleep. Sleep apnea can cause:

  • Poor memory
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • The risk of a heart attack (which can lead to a medical event while driving)

Can crashes involving truckers with sleep apnea be prevented?

Federal law requires truck drivers to take a physical exam before operating a commercial motor vehicle. In addition, they may be required to test for a sleep disorder if a body mass index of 30 or greater is identified.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can deem truckers with moderate or severe sleep apnea unsafe to drive a truck. When the condition is addressed and treated, they have a chance of regaining their safety status.

Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of truck crashes in Indiana. That's why the attorneys at Boughter Sinak, LLC dedicate themselves to helping injured motorists seek justice. We know that truck crashes can be complex and overwhelming for most people. Trucking companies and their insurers are difficult to deal with. Our legal team knows how to take them on and get results.

Contact us online today to find out how we can help you. Our Indiana law offices are in Fort Wayne and South Bend.

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