Truck Drivers Face Stringent Sleep Apnea ScreeningJuly 4, 2017
Driving a truck for a living, combined with an unhealthy diet, can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnea. It is likely that truck drivers who suffer from sleep apnea will be required to undergo more thorough screening by trucking companies before being allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) causes a person’s breathing to stop and start throughout the night. Common factors that may cause sleep apnea include obesity, poor diet, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor sleep habits. Complications from OSA include extreme fatigue, cardiovascular issues, eye problems, and complications with certain medications, if not monitored correctly. If a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel, the consequences of a truck accident can be devastating.
According to a study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, truck drivers who have OSA and do not seek proper treatment have a five times higher rate of a truck accident than truck drivers who do not suffer from OSA. Moreover, research indicates that approximately 20 percent of all truck accidents are caused by drowsy driving.
Recommendations for Stricter Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) says that a motor carrier cannot allow a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle if the driver suffers from any condition that would affect their ability to safely operate the vehicle. The Medical Review Board and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, both part of the FMSCA, recommend that drivers with a BMI of 35 or higher are required to take a sleep test. The proposed rule would require truck drivers who suffer from sleep apnea to be treated for the condition before being allowed to drive. The FMSCA has yet to respond to these recommendations.
Some members of the trucking community consider these regulations to be intrusive. Norita Taylor, a spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, claimed that there is no link between truck accidents and sleep apnea. In addition, she stated that there should not be a mandate for sleep apnea based on BMI.
Cost of Treatment
According to a study by the American Transportation Research Institute, more than half of the drivers who had been referred to a sleep study paid for some or all of the test costs, which averaged $1,200. The cost is prohibitive for some truck drivers, particularly those who work for small trucking companies who may not offer health insurance. Testing drivers for sleep apnea can cost trucking companies millions of dollars and hurt the industry financially. It is an issue that has yet to be solved, but with the demand for good truckers, trucking companies may be willing to negotiate. Hopefully, if this condition is identified, this will help to reduce the number of drowsy driving truck accidents nationwide.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Drowsy Driving
If you have been seriously injured in a truck accident caused by a driver error or negligence, the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help. Our dedicated team will determine who is responsible for your injuries and recommend the best legal course of action. We will not stop fighting for you until we obtain the maximum financial compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, 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 truck accident victims in 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, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.