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May 21st, 2012

New FMCSA Recommendations to Combat Driver Fatigue-Related Truck Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been moving towards rules that would require drivers to be evaluated for sleep apnea, thereby helping reduce the number of accidents traced to driver fatigue. Last week, federal transportation authorities adopted recommendations related to sleep apnea diagnosis.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board have adopted a total of 11 recommendations related to sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment. The recommendations are based on the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board’s obstructive sleep apnea subcommittee. That meeting discussed treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, monitoring compliance, and the impact of sleep apnea on highway safety.

Sleep apnea is a sleep-related disorder in which there are respiratory obstructions during sleep, which causes a person to feel fatigued and sleepy the next day. There are some risk factors for sleep apnea, primarily obesity. Truck drivers are at an especially high risk of obesity, and therefore, at a much higher risk of sleep apnea.

Fatigue-related truck accidents are fairly common, as any Houston truck accident lawyer will tell you. While much of the focus on preventing fatigue-related accidents has involved restrictions on truck driver work hours, there also needs to be a focus on prevention of sleep apnea in the trucker workforce. Many times, truck drivers who stay within the maximum work hours may feel fatigued, because they have not been able to sleep well at night as a result of their sleep apnea.

Update 12/18: To see an updated version of their tips, visit: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/tips-truck-and-bus-drivers

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