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How Untreated Sleep Apnea Can Cause Drowsy Truck Driving


Published in truck accident on October 15, 2020.

Trucking companies and truck drivers can be responsible for accidents that are caused by a driver’s failure to concentrate or falling asleep at the wheel, due to sleep apnea or some other medical condition. Our attorneys can help you if you’re involved in an accident like these.

Pursuant to a recent University of Pennsylvania study that was sponsored by the American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations – as well as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – approximately 28 percent of all commercial truck drivers suffer from some form of sleep apnea that ranges from mild to severe. In a nutshell, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that involves short breathing interruptions while a person is sleeping. In some instances, the person’s breathing can stop for a minimum of ten seconds (and sometimes longer) and may occur a maximum of 400 times in a single night. Because of these frequent sleep interruptions, individuals who suffer from sleep apnea can have trouble concentrating, staying alert, and paying attention the following day. 

Truck drivers are responsible for giving 100 percent of their attention to the road when they are operating their vehicles. Sleep apnea can significantly impair a truck driver’s driving abilities, and if an accident occurs, both the truck driver – and in some cases, the employer trucking company – can be responsible. 

If you have been injured in a truck accident that was caused by a negligent driver or trucking company, the experienced Macon big truck accident attorneys at Nelson & Smith Attorneys at Law are here to help you. We can assist you with pursuing the monetary compensation you deserve for the personal injuries and damages that you suffered in your truck accident. 

How Sleep Apnea Can Affect a Truck Operator’s Driving Abilities

Individuals of both sexes and of varying ages can suffer from sleep apnea. When a commercial truck driver, such as the driver of a big rig or tractor-trailer, experiences undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea, the driver’s daytime performance and alertness can be impacted significantly. Truck drivers already have to log large numbers of hours and drive for long periods of time without taking a break. If they suffer from sleep apnea, they may have difficulty staying away while on the road and focusing their attention on their driving. Their reaction time might also be delayed, making them unable to respond to an emergency situation that arises while on the road. 

What Do the FMCSA Regulations Say about Sleep Apnea?

Commercial motor vehicle operators who suffer from moderate-to-severe sleep apnea can be disqualified from driving their commercial vehicles. These levels of sleep apnea are unacceptable because they interfere with a truck driver’s ability to operate his or her vehicle in a safe and prudent manner. A health care provider must determine whether a particular truck driver is medically fit to operate a large truck. 

In addition, trucking companies may not allow a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle if the driver suffers a medical condition, such as sleep apnea, that impacts his or her ability to engage in safe driving. 

Speak with a Macon Big Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you have been involved in a truck accident that resulted from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, the legal team at Nelson & Smith Attorneys at Law is ready to assist you.For a free legal consultation and case evaluation with a Macon big truck accident lawyer, please call us at 478-746-1468, or contact us online for more information.