Truck drivers who suffer from sleep apnea but fail to follow treatment are at a significant risk for causing trucking accidents. At first glance, this may seem like a small niche within a large industry, but it is important to note that a sizeable percentage of truck drivers suffer from the disorder. In fact, the issue is so prevalent that both the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine are also voicing concern and calling for officials to address this issue.
This information was produced by a recent study out of the University of Minnesota Morris. Results discussed in a recent report by Minnesota Public Radio show that truck drivers with the disorder who follow treatment plans experience similar accident rates as their truck driving peers who do not have the disorder. This translates to approximately 14 serious preventable accidents out of 1,000 drivers. In contrast, those who suffer from the disorder and fail to follow treatment are reportedly involved in 70 serious accidents out of 1,000 drivers. In other words, these truck drivers are five times more likely to be involved in a serious accident.
A closer look at the study
Researchers with the study analyzed data from the United Stated Department of Transportation. The study reviewed over 1,600 truck drivers that were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and compared these drivers to an equal number who were unlikely to suffer from the disorder. According to the study, 28 percent of these drivers are at an increased risk of drowsy driving due to this disorder.
Impact of the study
The report by MPR notes that some commercial trucking companies are taking proactive steps to increase trucker’s compliance with treatment. This includes supplying their drivers with sleep apnea breathing devices that treat the disorder while also uploading data so the company can monitor treatment. A failure to follow agreed upon treatment can be used as cause for termination.
The findings are also likely to play a role in the upcoming rule making process launched by the Department of Transportation. This process is set to take up sleep apnea standards for truck drivers and train operators.
Remedies for victims
The dangers of drowsy driving are particularly concerning when large trucks are involved. An accident with a large truck can be catastrophic due to the simple physics of a much more massive truck colliding with a smaller passenger vehicle. Depending on the details of the accident, remedies may be available for victims. These remedies can include monetary awards to help cover the costs associated with the crash. Contact an experienced truck driver fatigue lawyer to discuss your options and better ensure your legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.