Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers: Dangers of Sleep ApneaFebruary 7, 2017
Commercial truck drivers are known to drive long hours, often on not enough sleep. When a driver is fatigued, he or she is much more likely to become distracted or fall asleep at the wheel, causing severe, potentially fatal truck accidents. Truck drivers who suffer from sleep apnea face an even greater risk of being involved in a fatal wreck because their sleep has been interrupted, leaving them exhausted and struggling to focus on the road. In an effort to address this issue, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is expected to propose a law that requires mandatory sleep apnea screening for all commercial truck drivers.
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that causes a person’s airway to close for several seconds while they are sleeping. In some cases, this can happen as many as 400 times per night. The disorder can cause the person to wake up several times throughout the night, leaving them exhausted the next day.
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
The following risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing sleep apnea:
- Regular alcohol consumption
- Family history
- Small airway
- Recessed chin or large overbite
According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, FMCSA, and the American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations, close to 30 percent of commercial truck drivers suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. Unfortunately, many truck drivers exhibit one or more of the risk factors listed above. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety reported that truck drivers who concentrate on interstate deliveries had a 70 percent obesity rate. In addition, they found that truck drivers are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol than people in other professions. This can have extremely dangerous consequences on the road.
Government Proposes Mandatory Testing
The U.S. Department of Transportation is strongly recommending that all commercial truck drivers be tested for sleep apnea. U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx discussed how crucial it is that truck drivers be well rested so that they can fully focus on the road at all times.
There are those who are opposed to the mandatory testing, saying that there is insufficient data that confirms a clear link between sleep apnea and higher crash rates. In addition, said Norita Taylor, spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, implementing this kind of testing can be quite expensive. There are also questions as to whether the testing would apply to current truck drivers, or only new drivers.
A final decision on this issue is pending.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Obtain Compensation for Truck Accident Victims
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a truck accident, you are urged to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as you may be eligible for financial compensation. Truck accident injuries can be particularly severe, if not fatal, due to the size and weight of large trucks. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of your accident and hold the negligent parties responsible for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced truck accident lawyers, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.