The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency within the US Department of Transportation, has attracted criticism for withdrawing a sleep apnea screening rule. If the rule had gone into effect, it would have identified commercial drivers who are at-risk for suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. These drivers could have been screened and possibly treated for the condition.
Drivers who suffer from untreated obstructive sleep apnea can pose a risk to public safety. Obstructive sleep apnea causes interruptions in breathing during sleep. People who suffer from this condition may awaken from sleep multiple times per night. As a result, they can suffer from symptoms that make it dangerous to operate large commercial vehicles.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of untreated sleep apnea include:
- Daytime drowsiness: People with this condition may experience excessive daytime drowsiness. In some instances, they may fall asleep while working or driving.
- Inattentiveness: Untreated obstructive sleep apnea may cause problems paying attention. Drivers with untreated sleep apnea may have a slowed ability to respond to obstacles or hazards.
These symptoms are incredibly dangerous for people who are tasked with operating vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Last year, the Harvard T.H. School of Public Health released a study that claims commercial drivers with untreated obstructive sleep apnea are five times more likely to cause truck accidents than drivers who do not have the condition.
Department of Transportation medical examiners may select drivers for sleep apnea screening. However, they may also opt not to perform the screening if they choose. Trucking companies may also opt to screen drivers.
Do I Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Sleep apnea is only one of many possible reasons why commercial truck drivers cause accidents. If you or a loved one were harmed due to the negligence of a commercial trucking company, then you have come to the right place. The New Jersey truck accident lawyers at Targan Pender & Strickland, P.C. can discuss the details of your accident at no cost. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to recover damages from the trucking company responsible for your injuries or loss.