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When truck drivers fall asleep at the wheel

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2017 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

The trucking industry is highly regulated. Why? It helps keeps truck drivers, their employers and the general public protected. If you or a loved one were involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle in Texas, you have every right to question if regulation violations were behind the incident.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that truck drivers receive medical clearance before they can hit the road. One common medical condition suffered by numerous drivers is sleep apnea. This disorder can make it very difficult to function when awake and can even result in truck drivers falling asleep when behind the wheel. Obviously, this presents a significant safety concern.

Sleep apnea basics

A person with sleep apnea struggles to breathe or completely stops breathing while asleep. This results in oxygen deprivation and a disruption in the sleep cycle. The vast majority of people with sleep apnea are not even aware that they have it. However, sleep specialists believe that nearly 25 million Americans suffer from the disorder.

Getting tested and getting treated

The most noticeable sign that a person has sleep apnea is daytime fatigue. Of course, there are many others that doctors will also look for before subjecting a person to a sleep study. There is a different standard for truck drivers, though. If there is any cause for concern, a truck driver will have to go through medical testing.

If a truck driver tests positive for sleep apnea, he or she will have to use the prescribed treatment in order to keep his or her commercial driver’s license. The most common and effective sleep apnea treatment is positive airway pressure therapy. This is a machine that forces air into a person’s airway, keeping it open and allowing him or her to breathe properly during sleep. The biggest obstacle for anyone who uses it is getting used to wearing it.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea are up to five times more likely to cause accidents. However, with just four hours of PAP therapy treatment every single night, one can greatly reduce sleep apnea-related accidents.

Injured or lost a loved one in a sleep apnea-related truck accident?

If you have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a sleep apnea-related truck accident, you may have legal recourse. It may be possible to file legal claims against truck drivers and their employers in a Texas civil court. If litigation proves successful, the court may award you a monetary judgment for any recoverable losses sustained.