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The combination of drowsiness and driving can be deadly, especially if you are a commercial truck driver. According to a recent study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the American Transportation Research Institute, one out of three commercial truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea. Whether it is severe or mild, any form of sleep apnea can lead to drastically negative effects on a person’s concentration and awareness. For truckers, this can lead to a serious truck accident if they are extremely fatigued on the road.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects millions of Americas, that means about four percent of the population suffers from sleep apnea, and one third of all truck drivers are impacted. The condition occurs when a person is unable to descend into a deep sleep because their body does not function properly; the person struggles to breath, and the right amount of oxygen required to get a good, restful sleep is diminished.
There are three types of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is derived from the brain, where certain receptors fail to send the correct signals to breathe properly. Obstructive sleep apnea, which affects most truck drivers, is more physical; if the throat muscles collapse while sleeping, it blocks airways, which disrupts your breathing and sleep. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the two. The following are some of the symptoms of sleep apnea:
Researchers have also found that diet and weight problems may cause obstructive sleep apnea as well. In this case, the fatty tissue around the neck and throat can be too overwhelming for the airway, preventing it to operate correctly. Sleep apnea leads to sleep fragmentation, meaning that the body is unable to achieve the REM state or deep sleep state that is needed for muscles to recover. Oxygen is also deprived to the brain; if left untreated, sleep apnea can cause a heart attack or stroke; this especially causes hazards for truck drivers and all drivers on the road.
For truck drivers, the dangerous combination of long hours on the road and drowsiness or lack of concentration raises the risk of an accident by 250 percent. It is a must that all commercial truck drivers help themselves and discuss sleep apnea with their doctors. Treatment can be as easy as sleeping with a CPAP machine, sleeping on your side, or engaging in better diet habits. If you do get diagnosed with sleep apnea, your CDL license should not be affected, as long as you receive a DOT certified medical card and follow the treatment of your doctor.
If you have been injured in a truck accident that was caused by a drowsy driver, you may be eligible for compensation. Truck drivers who are extremely fatigued or suffering from sleep apnea can cause dangerous situations to all drivers on the road. Our dedicated Delaware truck accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow will fight to protect your rights and help you obtain compensation for truck accident injuries. Contact us online or call us 302-427-9500 for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we also serve clients in Elsmere and Seaford.