Truck Drivers with Untreated Sleep Apnea at Increased Risk of Crashing
Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Apr 13, 2016 in Truck Accidents
According to a recent study, published in the Sleep journal in late March, truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea are five times more likely to be involved in a crash.
The study analyzed a group of approximately 3,200 truck drivers, half of which had been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, and the other half who did not suffer from sleep apnea.
About 1,000 working drivers with sleep apnea, who had refused treatment, were involved in 70 preventable and serious truck accidents. The group that accepted treatment for sleep apnea experienced about 14 crashes.
About 60 percent of drivers who failed to follow through with the mandated sleep apnea treatment actually quit before they could be discharged from the study. Though participants who refused medical treatment were removed from the program, federal regulations allow drivers to keep a diagnosis of sleep apnea private, which allows them to continue working despite the increased risk of an accident.
Trucking firms can require drivers suffering from sleep apnea to get treatment, but not all trucking companies do so.
This study was the first large-scale analysis on how screening, diagnosing and monitoring sleep apnea can affect a driver’s crash risk.
It is estimated that about 28 percent of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. Because the condition affects your sleep, it can also affect the individual’s daytime performance and alertness, which makes it much more dangerous to drive. It is estimated that about 20 percent of all large truck accidents are caused by a fatigued driver.
Commercial truck drivers must undergo a medical fitness exam every other year, but there are no standards on screening or diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees trucking regulations, is considering mandating sleep apnea screening and treatment in the near future.
Each year, thousands of people are injured in serious truck accidents. If you have been injured in a truck accident, our experienced truck accident lawyers can help you determine your legal options. You may be entitled to file a claim for the damages you suffered.