Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious sleep disorder which causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep. OSA occurs when throat muscles relax and become blocked intermittently. The most noticeable sign of OSA is snoring. OSA can impair a person’s ability to operate a truck.
Data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that 26 % of men and nine percent of women have obstructive sleep apnea. A study by the University of Minnesota, the T.H. Chan School of Public Policy at Harvard University, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University found that truck drivers who fail to treat their OSA are five times more likely to have an accident than truck drivers who don’t have OSA.
The FMCSA already has rules that regulate the number of hours commercial truck drivers should drive. The FMCSA is now considering requiring that truck drivers be screened for OSA and that afflicted drivers get medical treatment before being allowed to operate a tractor-trailer, semi, or large truck. Truck companies should be forbidden to hire a commercial driver who has OSA. Tired drivers are dangerous drivers.
Diagnosing sleep apnea may require that the driver spend the night at a sleep center where their sleep can be monitored. Untreated OSA can make it hard for the truck driver to stay awake or to be alert.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Drivers and the family and friends of drivers should be on the lookout for these physical and emotional conditions:
- Snoring loudly
- Headaches in the morning
- Sleeping during the daytime
- Memory problems
- Irritability and depression
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Having to urinate frequently
Some of the indicators for sleep apnea include:
- A family history of OSA
- A large neck size
- Alcohol use
People over 40 are also at risk for sleep apnea.
Tired drivers are dangerous drivers. They can’t respond to traffic conditions. They are likely to veer off the road, tailgate, roll over, driver through stop signs, and speed. At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, our truck accident lawyers hold drivers and trucking companies accountable for accidents caused by fatigued drivers. Our Nashville, Hendersonville and Knoxville lawyers file wrongful death claims and personal injury cases on behalf of other drivers, passengers, and bystanders.