The Prevalence of Sleep Apnea in the Commercial Trucking Industry
Fatigue is never a good thing for a driver. Driving while sleepy is very dangerous and is one of the leading causes of accidents across the country. Fatigue in the commercial trucking industry, though, is a widespread problem. Irregular working hours and spending a long time on the road can lead to truck drivers not getting the rest they need to stay alert when behind the wheel. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration developed specific guidelines to address overly tired drivers. There are specific requirements regarding the amount of time a commercial truck driver can work consecutively, when they must take rests, and when they must stop driving.
A lot of responsible truck drivers follow these rules, but some do not. In some circumstances the pressure that is put on truck drivers by their employer to get their cargo to its destination quickly causes the driver to violate the working and rest guidelines set forth by the FMCSA. When violations of the FMCSA guidelines occur, the risk for drowsy driving increases. In addition to drowsy driving due to lack of adequate rest, other conditions can also cause truck drivers to have difficulty staying awake and alert when they are working, such as sleep apnea.
How Does Sleep Apnea Affect the Commercial Trucking Industry?
Sleep apnea is a common condition that is experienced by many adults in the United States. When one is sleeping and their airways become blocked over and over again there is a constant disruption in breathing. These stoppages in breathing lead to lower oxygen levels in the blood. If sleep apnea isn’t properly diagnosed and taken care of, other negative health outcomes can develop including heart attack, diabetes, and cognitive disorders to name a few. With respect to the commercial trucking industry, approximately 20% of drivers are reported to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
If a commercial truck driver isn’t able to fully focus on operating their big rig, the threat of accidents and catastrophic harm to others on the road is greatly increased. Commercial trucks in Arizona are huge and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds which makes accidents with much smaller passenger vehicles that much more devastating. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that sleep apnea is a factor in as little as 13% of all trucking accidents to as high as 31% of these incidents.
Speak with an Arizona Commercial Truck Accident Attorney Today
The true number of commercial truck accidents in Arizona that take place due to a drowsy driver is hard to pin down. Unless there is clear evidence of a sleepy driver, many times truckers won’t admit the extent of how tired they were when the crash happened. This is because of the liability that comes with the confession as well as the penalties for potentially violating FMSCA guidelines. Additionally, there are also many truckers who may have sleep apnea that is affecting their ability to stay attentive while they are working but they don’t know they have the condition because they were never formally diagnosed.
If you were the victim of an Arizona commercial truck accident, call the experienced and skilled Arizona commercial truck accident attorneys at ELG immediately at (623) 877-3600 to discuss how you can obtain compensation for your damages during a free consultation.