One of the most common factors in commercial truck accidents is driver fatigue. These crashes are happening at an alarming rate, despite federal regulations that limit the number of hours a driver can be on the road.
One of the main causes of driver fatigue crashes is that the truck driver is suffering from sleep apnea, a recognized medical condition that tragically many sufferers do not even realize they have.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
There are two different types of sleep apnea. When a person has obstructive sleep apnea, they stop breathing for brief periods of time while they are sleeping. It is the most common type of sleep apnea. This usually causes them to wake up, multiple times throughout the night.
When an individual is suffering from central sleep apnea, their breathing stops and starts multiple times during sleep because their brain cannot send proper signals to the muscles of the body that control breathing.
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that needs treatment in order to alleviate the symptoms. Although both men and women of all ages can develop the condition, there are certain factors which make people more susceptible. These include:
- Alcohol use
- Being overweight
- Large neck size
- Small upper airway
Some of the symptoms that could indicate the unsuspecting individual could be suffering from sleep apnea include:
- Chronic sleepiness during the daytime hours
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
Truck Drivers and Sleep Apnea
Commercial truck drivers are more at risk of developing sleep apnea than other professions. This is due to the long hours they spend sitting, driving their rigs. Studies have found that approximately 35 percent of all truck drivers have some form of sleep apnea. When a driver is suffering from sleep apnea, they can be a danger to everyone on the road around them. Many truck accidents have occurred because the condition caused the truck driver to:
- Fall asleep while they were driving
- Had a difficult time concentrating and staying focused on the road in front of them
- Impaired their judgment
- Slowed their reaction time
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash caused by a tractor trailer, contact a skilled North Carolina truck accident attorney to see what legal recourse you may have for your pain and loss. Shapiro & Appleton also offers a free truck accident guide that addresses such issues as federal trucking violations, commercial truck insurance, and common tactics used by commercial carriers to reduce or deny the amount of damages a truck accident victim is entitled to.