The thought of a sleepy truck driver at the helm of an 80,000 pound tractor trailer is enough to frighten any Texas truck accident lawyer. Sleep apnea is a major contributing factor in truck driver fatigue. It is only recently that substantial studies have been done to document a truck driver’s high risk for sleep apnea. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 30% of truck drivers suffer from some degree of sleep apnea.
Those are frightening statistics, because sleep apnea can be a serious threat to people driving on the highway. A truck driver suffering from sleep apnea is likely to suffer from several periods of respiratory interruptions at night, causing him to wake up several times. A sleepless night makes for a drowsy and lethargic trucker. Considering the monotonous nature of a trucker’s job – sitting alone in his cab and staring out into an empty highway – the risks of falling off to sleep are simply too high to ignore.
This week, the chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration addressed the Sleep Apnea and Trucking Conference in Baltimore. Anne Ferro made it clear that tackling the problem of truck drivers and sleep apnea is not going to involve a one-shot approach that solves everything. Instead, her agency is looking at a sustained program that includes in-depth research into sleep apnea, education, awareness, outreach and intervention.
It’s very important that sleep apnea is diagnosed as early as possible, and that truckers begin treatment immediately. In the past, several studies have indicated that truckers who join sleep apnea treatment programs, don’t often complete it. The FMCSA needs to look at this issue carefully. The FMCSA is developing an online medical examiner, and Houston truck accident lawyers hope that sleep apnea guidelines for sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment find a place in the examiner.