In a studysponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), University of Pennsylvania researchers found that 28% of truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can lead to drowsiness and fatigue which can be deadly for drivers of large trucks. Should trucking companies be screening for this condition before allowing drivers on the road?
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder where an individual periodically stops breathing while they are sleeping. This condition can lead to poor and interrupted sleep which may leave individuals fatigued and impaired during the day. Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition. About 1 in 5 adultssuffer from some degree of sleep apnea. Risks factors for sleep apnea include:
- A family history of sleep apnea
- Thick neck circumference
- Smoking and alcohol use
- Being male
- Being over 40 years old
- Nasal congestion caused by allergies or an anatomical issue
Sleep apnea is usually treated with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) which consists of a mask that the individual wears while sleeping to improve breathing.
Why is Sleep Apnea Dangerous for Truck Drivers?
Sleep apnea affects the amount and quality of sleep and can, therefore, have a detrimental effect on someone’s alertness and performance during the day. Truck drivers need to be focused and alert at all times when driving their huge vehicles. If they are impaired by the lack of sleep, they may not be sharp enough to react quickly, stay focused on the road, or even stay awake. This impairment can be deadly to other motorists on the road
Under the Obama administration, the FMSCA proposed a rulethat would require the screening of train engineers and truck drivers for moderate to severe sleep apnea. The Trump administration withdrew the proposed requirementin a supposed effort to eliminate regulations that impede economic growth.
Trucking Companies Should Screen for Sleep Apnea
FMSCA rules currently state that a driver should not be permitted to drive if they have a medical condition that would prevent them from driving safely. If this person is properly treated for their condition and it is no longer a concerning medical condition, they can begin driving. However, sleep apnea is not always apparent to a medical doctor. In fact, drivers may not even be aware that they have the condition. Given the potentially deadly results of sleep apnea, trucking companies should require some type of screening for the condition for all drivers.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you should have an experienced attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers. Contact us onlineor call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.