A new study published recently in the journal, Sleep, shed some light on a previously unknown and potentially dangerous issue involving truck drivers with sleep apnea and an extensive amount of trucking accidents.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes repeated episodes of shallow breathing or unusually long pauses in breathing during sleep.
The disorder can be difficult to recognize, even by individuals who are affected by it, because it only occurs when a person is sleeping. Therefore, the disease is most commonly discovered by a second party who witnesses an episode.
While most people will experience some minor, temporary degree of sleep apnea at some point during their life, for others, the disorder can manifest as a chronic, severe health issue. The most common symptom of sleep apnea is excessive daytime fatigue. Other symptoms include high blood pressure, diabetes, headaches and an increased risk for strokes.
The Alarming Study Results
The study compared 1,600 drivers with sleep apnea to an equal number of drivers who did not have the disorder.
Researchers divided the drivers into three separate groups; drivers with sleep apnea who were placed on a monitored treatment program, affected drivers who refused treatment, and drivers without the disorder.
Over the course of one year, drivers with sleep apnea who had refused treatment had 70 serious accidents that could have been prevented. Drivers with the disorder who participated in the treatment, as well as drivers in the control group, had only 14 crashes total.
The results of the study are particularly valuable to the trucking industry, because federal regulations do not prevent drivers with sleep apnea from withholding their diagnosis from potential employers.
Currently, a driver with sleep apnea can quit working for one trucking company and be hired by another without having to inform either company that they suffer from sleep apnea. Not requiring trucking companies to screen new drivers for this disorder could be a potentially dangerous oversight.
The experienced Cincinnati personal injury attorneys at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy have seen the extensive damage that a negligent commercial truck driver can cause. If you or a loved one has been injured in a preventable truck accident, we can help you seek the compensation you deserve.