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Truck drivers and sleep apnea

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers who suffer from sleep apnea represent a serious national concern. There are numerous commercial truck drivers on our nation's highways being forced to drive through the night, skip sleep and drive their vehicles while they're extremely fatigued. When this situation is combined with a driver who suffers from sleep apnea, the driver will be even more fatigued, and more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.

Sleep apnea mixed with commercial trucking is dangerous and fatal, both for the sleep-deprived truckers and the people they share the highway with. As a result, the FMCSA is currently investigating the matter to determine just how many truckers are suffering from the condition. That said, screening all truck drivers for sleep apnea represents a costly and time-consuming undertaking. At the moment, the FMCSA is only able to offer the recommendation that truckers with sleep apnea get the medical attention they require.

Harvard researchers have been looking into the effects of sleep apnea on trucker performance. In analyzing the performance of 1,600 truckers suffering from sleep apnea -- and comparing the statistics to 2,000 drivers without sleep apnea -- the researchers found that 360 truck drivers never tried to get treatment for their conditions. The rest partially or completely followed through with medical treatment protocols.

It's possible that a Washington court would view a trucker with sleep apnea -- who refrained from getting treatment -- to be negligent if he or she caused a motor vehicle accident as a result of fatigue. If you were involved in an accident caused by a fatigued semitruck driver, you might have a viable personal injury claim to seek financial compensation in civil court.

Source: Reinig Barber & Henry, "Truck Accidents," accessed June 16, 2017

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