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FMCSA recommends sleep apnea test for long haul drivers

Board members of the Medical Review Board of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), are recommending that men and women truck drivers who meet certain criteria be tested for sleep apnea. The test hopes to identify and help treat truck drivers who could suffer from this sleep condition. The board believes that this can help reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

Sleep apnea and truck drivers

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where your breathing is constantly starting and stopping, disrupting your sleep. This condition causes you to fall in and out of sleep, leaving you tired the next day. People who have sleep apnea typically aren't aware that they have this condition.

Sleep apnea is commonly found in overweight males who smoke and have high blood pressure. In a national study done in 2010, researchers found that 69 percent of truck drivers were obese, 23 percent were overweight, and 51 percent were smokers.

Looking at these statistics and common at-risk sleep apnea patients, gives us reason to question if some drivers suffer from untreated sleep apnea. There is no hard evidence to prove that truck drivers who are overweight and smoke have sleep apnea. However, operating any vehicle with potential sleep deprivation can be dangerous.

How this affects you

All drivers share the roads; this includes you and truck drivers. Sharing the roads with truck drivers who are operating on low-quality sleep can cause some serious issues.

Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel are considered negligent drivers. This falls under what the courts call, legal duty of care. Legal duty of care means that people, by law, must act and drive in a responsible manner to avoid harming others. Falling asleep while driving directly violates the legal duty of care and can put many other drivers in harm's way. Accidents involving large semis are very serious and have the potential to be catastrophic.

Proving that a driver fell asleep at the wheel is more difficult, unless they admit to it. An attorney can help with your claim by gathering evidence, talking to eyewitnesses and potential court battles. If you feel a negligent truck driver hit or injured you, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who handle trucking accidents. Your attorney can help make sure that you are being fairly compensated and represented when going up against large trucking companies. 

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