Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that could impact a truck driver’s ability to function appropriately behind the wheel. More than 328,000 accidents linked to drowsy driving in 2014 were recently studied by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea experience their airway being cut off while they are sleeping. An individual may be woken up as many as 400 times a night when he or she has a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea.
While anyone with sleep apnea may experience problems during the day associated with their ability to stay asleep restfully during the night, the stakes are even higher when a person with OSA has a job that requires them to operate heavy machinery or drive often. The connection between truck drivers and OSA could be a deadly one.
Since OSA can interrupt a victim’s sleep pattern, this can lead to overwhelming fatigue and problems with concentration and focus. A study conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute, The University of Pennsylvania, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration identified that up to 30% of truck drivers today had mild to severe obstructive sleep apnea. With a crash likelihood of five times more for those drivers who had sleep apnea, the outcomes of a trucking accident can be fatal.
Some of the most common risk factors contributing to OSA include alcohol consumption, smoking, and obesity. Truck drivers had a 70% higher rate of obesity and also reported higher rates of alcohol consumption and smoking. A new proposal submitted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to the National Transportation Safety Board has requested that obstructive sleep apnea screening be required for all commercial truck drivers.
For individuals already hurt in a serious trucking accident, life may never be the same again. Trucking accidents are often complex from a litigation perspective as they may involve liability associated with multiple parties.