Sleep apnea is a major contributing factor to driver fatigue, which causes hundreds of truck driver-related accidents every year. Trucking companies must establish and maintain a sleep apnea evaluation program, to screen drivers for symptoms of this dangerous disorder.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which there is disturbed sleep at night. This is a condition in which a person’s breathing is interrupted while he sleeping. A person, who suffers from sleep apnea, may stop breathing several times during his sleep. In severe cases of sleep apnea, the person may suffer from such breathing interruptions several times during a single sleep cycle. These interruptions in breathing can rob the brain of oxygen.
As a result, the person may be less than 100% alert the next day. He may be listless, lethargic and drowsy, and may be at a high risk of falling asleep at work. In the case of a truck driver, truck accident lawyers find that the consequences of sleep apnea can be devastating.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is especially concerned about the dangers of sleep apnea involving truck drivers, because this is a community that is already at a very high risk for this condition. Obesity is one of the contributing factors in sleep apnea, and obesity is widespread in the trucker community. A trucker’s lifestyle contributes to weight gain, and drivers are much more likely to suffer from this dangerous condition.
Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea are severe fatigue and drowsiness the next morning. However, there are other sleep apnea symptoms that very similar to symptoms of other medical conditions, and are therefore, likely to be missed. For instance, a truck driver who suffers from sleep apnea may suffer from headaches, nausea, and depression. He may have trouble focusing, and may have memory problems. Truck companies must have a comprehensive sleep apnea evaluation program in place to detect this condition in drivers before fatigue causes an accident.
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