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The Law Offices of Brent J. Rhodes

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Call for free consultation: 985-262-7799

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Sleep apnea’s effect on truck drivers

| Oct 17, 2017 | Blog |

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that is particularly dangerous for truck drivers. Despite the risks, the federal government recently scrapped a plan to test truck drivers for the disorder. 

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by a person becoming unable to breathe properly while asleep. A common symptom is loud, aggressive snoring punctuated by pauses in breathing. This can occur dozens of times in a single night. There are various health problems that can develop as a result of this disorder, including chronic headaches and chest pain. However, it can also result in fatigue during the day, increasing the likelihood of a truck driver falling asleep behind the wheel of a vehicle. 

Truck drivers more susceptible than other drivers

Anyone can develop sleep apnea, but it is more likely to form in people who are overweight, drink excessively and smoke. While everyone is at risk, truck drivers face unique perils. Most people may drive to work and then back home, but truck drivers often go on the road for over eight hours every day. As a result, if a truck driver has sleep apnea, he or she is more likely to have impaired motor functions. 

Truck companies’ responsibilities

Although federal guidelines for sleep apnea testing have been cut, trucking companies still have a responsibility to ensure drivers are safe while on the road. It is worth it for companies to pay for drivers to undergo sleep testing to see if they suffer from any sleeping disorders. Treatments are available, including mouthguards and CPAP machines, to help sufferers sleep better. Employers also need to make sure they give truck drivers enough rest every night and that they take breaks. 

Dangers of driving while fatigued

Truck drivers who become drowsy or even fall asleep behind the wheel can increase the chances of an accident. Additionally, 18-wheelers can cause more serious damage due to their size. Truck drivers have a responsibility to receive a diagnosis. 

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