In recent years, fatigued driving in the commercial trucking industry has received much attention because of the serious—and often deadly—accidents that can result. Many safety experts have focused on long driving shifts and hours of service violations when discussing the risks of fatigued truck drivers. However, a number of recent fatigued truck driving accidents have been attributed to a different factor—undiagnosed sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea has been cited as a factor in several truck and train crashes. When someone does not receive the proper treatment for sleep apnea, the condition can cause them to suffer from severe fatigue when they are awake. Often, people may become accustomed to this level of fatigue and not realize its severity.
Whether someone is aware of fatigue or not, it can still cause many problems, including the following:
- Loss of focus
- Lack of judgment
- Slower reaction speeds
- Blurred vision
- Falling asleep without warning
Any of the above can be extremely dangerous when a person is behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound commercial vehicle. Many fatigued truck drivers lose complete control and may crash into several different vehicles in their path, resulting in numerous serious injuries.
This often leads to the question—what more can trucking companies do to prevent this problem? Companies are already required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to check drive time records to ensure that drivers are complying with hours of service regulations. However, this requirement does not address the problem of fatigue caused by untreated sleep apnea.
Last year, the FMCSA pursued a proposal to enact a regulation that would require testing of all commercial drivers for sleep apnea to ensure they were properly treated. However, that proposal was recently withdrawn due to the new administration, and it is still up to the trucking companies to take action to keep drivers and motorists safe.
Commercial drivers are already tested for a wide variety of health issues and physical limitations that may lead to potential crashes. It would be easy for trucking companies to simply add sleep apnea to the list of conditions to be tested. However, there is no agency forcing them to do this and many companies are not changing their policies. In the meantime, it is important to hold any fatigued truck drivers and their employers fully liable for any injuries and damage they cause.
Discuss Your Situation with a Fredericksburg Truck Accident Attorney
While driver fatigue is a serious problem, it is far from the only error that truck drivers make that may result in a serious crash. If you have been injured in a truck accident, the process of seeking the compensation you deserve can be complicated and intimidating. It is important that you consult with an experienced truck accident law firm as soon as possible. The office of Emroch & Kilduff regularly helps clients in and around Richmond, Petersburg, Tappahannock, and Fredericksburg. Call today 804-358-1568 or contact us online for a free consultation.