One overlooked aspect of traffic accidents, especially ones caused by sleep-deprived truck drivers, is the role of sleep apnea. The sleep disorder afflicts tens of millions of people, particularly middle-aged men who are overweight.
Apnea, which literally means “without breath,” is when someone stops breathing for a period of time because of a blockage in one’s airway. Usually in such cases, tissue in the back of the throat collapses, and the person stops breathing for a minute or longer while he or she sleeps.
If untreated, it can cause high blood pressure, memory loss, fatigue and headaches. Chronic cases have been known to lead to death. People with sleep apnea have poor sleep, which hinders their job performance. It can play a significant role in auto crashes.
For someone behind the wheel, 8 hours of sleep is needed safely drive on long trips, so long as the sleep is of quality and without interruption. Truck drivers should be off 10 hours out of the 24 in a day to ensure at least 8 hours of quality sleep and two hours for meals.
Unfortunately, for decades the trucking industry has lobbied for substandard rules that give drivers 8 hours off out of the 24-hour day to meet demanding schedules. But these rules come at a cost of public safety. Moreover, trucking companies do not do enough to screen their drivers and educate them on the serious nature of sleep deprivation and apnea.
For more information on the importance of sleep and its role in public safety, visit the National Sleep Foundation. If you have been in a truck accident, contact us right away. Delaying could harm your case.
If you or a family member have been wrongfully injured call us at 1.888.777.1776 or use this form, delays can hurt your case, so please don’t hesitate to contact us.