Depending on who you ask, driving long distances can be either incredibly boring or aesthetically pleasing. One of the drawbacks to long distance driving is that it can cause drowsiness, which is a major cause of truck accidents.
For commercial truckers, fatigue is a recipe for disaster. Just ask Tracy Morgan, a comedian who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a sleepy and speeding commercial trucker slammed into his limo while leaving a parking lot. Federal transportation statistics claim drowsy driving accounts for 7 percent of all truck accidents.
Hours-of-service rules exist to limit how long truck drivers can operate, and how many hours they can work per week. However, recent Department of Transportation studies claim these rules need to be strengthened.
Should Federal Regulators Test Truckers for Sleep Apnea?
Driver fatigue can also be caused by sleep apnea, a condition that can keep people from getting a deep and restorative sleep. Although the condition is treatable, many drivers are unaware they have it or neglect treatments. Researchers associated with the University of Minnesota claim truckers with sleep apnea are five times more likely to cause accidents.
This is frightening news because 20 percent of commercial truckers suffer from sleep apnea. It is possible that sleep apnea has been a major cause of truck accidents for years.
Most recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has expressed a desire to study how sleep apnea testing and treatment could be implemented for commercial truckers. In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that the FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration implement sleep apnea screening and testing.
Fatigued truck drivers are a major threat to public safety and federal regulators have nothing to lose by exploring solutions that can prevent accidents caused by drowsy driving.
Galloway Jefcoat is a Lafayette personal injury law firm dedicated to helping the victims of negligent commercial truckers and companies.