Sleep apnea – a condition in which there are pauses in breathing during sleep – is a big contributor to truck driver fatigue. Currently, there are only a minor number of truck accident lawsuits every year that name the driver's sleep apnea specifically as one of the causal factors of the crash. That however, could soon change as more and more evidence links sleep apnea to truck drivers and consequently, a high risk of accidents.
Houston truck accident lawyers have long been aware of the fact that obese drivers have a higher risk of sleep apnea, and therefore, a higher risk of fatigue-related accidents. However, it hasn't yet been proved to be a potent factor in litigation arising from truck accidents. That's because for the large part, the trucking industry has tended to minimize the importance of studies linking sleep apnea specifically to truck drivers.
Last year, a study conducted by Harvard researchers named obesity among truck drivers as a major contributing factor to sleep apnea among these drivers. The Harvard study also indicated that most drivers, who begin treatment for sleep apnea, don't often complete the treatment program. There have been other studies linking truck drivers to a higher risk of this potentially dangerous sleep disorder.
It has taken a long time for the trucking industry to wake up to the fact that there is a silent killer in its midst. A few trucking companies have begun their own sleep apnea programs, but have found it hard to develop strategies to strongly deal with the problem. It hasn't helped matters that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has no strong guidelines for the diagnosis of sleep apnea in truck drivers and treatment programs for drivers. The agency has been very slow to act on this issue.
There is enough research out there to prove the high risk of sleep apnea among truck drivers, and trucking companies would do well to study these findings and initiate their own sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment programs, at least until federal agencies decide to do something about it.
If you have been injured in an accident with an 18 wheeler or other commercial vehicle, contact the experienced lawyers at The Kahn Law Firm for a free case evaluation at 713-226-9900.