Fatigued driving among commercial truck drivers can cause serious and even fatal accidents. In June, 2014 it was a driver who fell asleep at the wheel that crashed into comedian Tracy Morgan’s limo, causing him to suffer a severe traumatic brain injury and killing his longtime friend. Fatigued driving is often associated with the long hours that a truck driver spends on the road, a risk that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) seeks to mitigate by enforcing strict regulations requiring rest breaks.1 However, recently, a newly researched cause of fatigued driving has become a concern in the trucking industry.
How Sleep Apnea Causes Fatigue
About 22 million people in the U.S. live with sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts a person’s breathing possibly hundreds of times per night. To resume breathing, the body will wake itself up for a brief moment – also possibly hundreds of times per night. This presents not only respiratory risks during the night, but also results in serious fatigue throughout the day. Fatigue can cause a lack of concentration, impairment in judgment, and slower reflexes, much like alcohol impairment.
The FMCSA estimates that nearly one-third of commercial drivers suffer from sleep apnea and much more may be undiagnosed. Once treated, individuals with sleep apnea can get a better night’s sleep and avoid fatigue. However, without a proper diagnosis and treatment, this health condition can result in dangerously fatigued truck drivers.
Will there be New Requirements for Truck Drivers?
Sleep apnea screening is required for all airline pilots and for many transit train conductors, especially since it has been determined that conductors involved in several train crashes had undiagnosed sleep apnea. However, the FMCSA has not yet enacted requirements for commercial drivers to be screened for the disorder, though the agency has issued warnings about the matter.2
Call Our Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers Today
If you sustained injuries in a truck accident, it may be due to a fatigued driver or another driver error. We would always recommend that you have your case reviewed by a truck accident attorney who can advise you of your legal rights. Call the law office of Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 924-7575 for help.