Sleep Apnea and Truck Accidents: Should Companies Screen Drivers?

Sleep Apnea and Truck Accidents Should Companies Screen Drivers

University of Pennsylvania researchers found in a study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) that 28% of truck drivers have some form of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can lead to drowsiness and fatigue which can be deadly for drivers of large trucks. Should trucking companies be screening their drivers for this condition before allowing them on the road?

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder where someone periodically stops breathing while they are sleeping. This disorder can lead to poor quality and interrupted sleep which often leaves individuals fatigued during the day. Sleep apnea can be a potentially life-threatening condition. As many as 1 in 5 adults suffer from some form of sleep apnea. Risks factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Obesity
  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Thick neck circumference
  • Being male
  • Being over 40 years old
  • Nasal congestion caused by allergies or an anatomical issue

Sleep apnea is typically treated with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) which consists of a mask that the individual wears while sleeping that helps to improve breathing.

Why is Sleep Apnea Dangerous for Truck Drivers?

Sleep apnea affects the amount and quality of sleep a person gets. Therefore, it can have a detrimental effect on someone’s performance and alertness during the day. Truck drivers should be focused and alert at all times when driving their large vehicles. If they are impaired by a lack of quality sleep, they may not be alert enough to react quickly, stay focused on the road, or even to stay awake. This impairment can be deadly to other motorists on the road.

FMSCA Rules

FMSCA rules currently state that a driver should not be permitted to drive a truck if they have a medical condition that would prevent them from safely driving. If this person is properly treated for their condition and it is no longer a concern, they can begin driving. However, sleep apnea may not always be apparent to a medical doctor. Many drivers may not even be aware that they have this condition. Given the potentially deadly results of sleep apnea, trucking companies should require some type of screening for the condition for all drivers. 

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, it’s important to have an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we have over 30 years of experience helping injured Floridians. Contact us online or call us at 1-800-753-5203 to set up your free consultation today.