Drivers in Louisiana frequently share the roads with large commercial trucks. Whether it is the middle of the day or the middle of the night, semi-truck and tractor-trailer trucks can be seen traveling long and short distances across the state. A major concern regarding truckers is fatigue. Because drowsy driving is very dangerous and can pose many risks on the roadways, federal regulations have been passed to address this concern.
While federal trucking regulations already address this issue by setting standards for hours of service and required breaks, this does not always address drowsy driving. One major issue that can contribute to fatigued truck drivers is sleep apnea. If this is not properly caught and monitored, it will not matter if hours of service regulations are followed.
A case that the Supreme Court refused to hear earlier this year could change the way sleep apnea among truck drivers is treated. There, a trucker claimed that a carrier violated his rights by requiring him to test to assess whether he had sleep apnea. The Court of Appeals held that this testing did not violate the truckers’ rights and, with the Supreme Court unwilling to hear the case, that holding stands. Now that carriers have a lesser fear of lawsuits being brought, they are more likely to screen for sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person’s breathing to stop and start repeatedly while they are sleeping. While there are various types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is the most common. There are several risks for this disorder, including obesity, lack of physical fitness, bad diet, smoking, and poor sleep patterns. Because truck driving is a solitary job, sleep apnea is a major concern as it can leave a trucker severely fatigued with no assurances that he or she will stay awake and alert behind the wheel. This tiredness could result in a serious and even fatal truck accident.
If you have been harmed in a truck accident, it is important to understand what caused the accident, as it may form the basis for a personal injury lawsuit. If a drowsy truck driver was the cause of the crash, it is possible to hold that driver accountable for his or her negligence. A personal injury claim could result in the recovery of compensation for medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation, and other related damages and losses.
Source: Trucks.com, “Truck Drivers Can Expect More Sleep Apnea Rules,” Aaron Crowe, May 16, 2017