One study estimates that somewhere around 28 percent of the truckers you share the road with suffer from some level of sleep apnea. This life-threatening and serious condition causes sufferers to stop breathing during their sleep for a minimum of 10 seconds. Some people experience this hundreds of times each night.
As you can imagine, this doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep. Truck drivers with this condition may be chronically sleep deprived. This makes them a danger to you and everyone else on the road. If you suffer injuries in a collision with a big rig, it may be worthwhile to determine whether the driver suffered from sleep apnea. To this end, it may help to know some details about this condition.
How do you know if someone suffers from sleep apnea?
Medical testing confirms the diagnosis, but most people exhibit the following symptoms:
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- Snoring loudly
- Problems concentrating or remembering things
- Being excessively sleepy during the day
- Suffering from nausea or headaches upon rising
- Feeling depressed or irritable
- Urinating often during the night
- Experiencing sleep disturbances
- Losing sex drive
- Experiencing impotence
Most people experience one or more of these symptoms on occasion, so a sleep study is required in order to confirm a diagnosis.
Who’s most at risk of suffering from sleep apnea?
Anyone could suffer from this condition, but the following factors increase risk for some people:
- Having a small upper airway
- Having a large overbite, small jaw or recessed chin
- Having a family history of the condition
- Drinking alcohol
- Being overweight
- Being over the age of 40
- Having a large neck size
In addition, ethnicity may play a role in whether a person has an increased risk of suffering from sleep apnea.
Are truckers allowed to drive with this condition?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not necessarily disqualify a driver based on a diagnosis of sleep apnea. A driver under treatment may be cleared to drive. However, that does not necessarily guarantee that a truck driver will be at peak performance.
While many drivers don’t fall asleep behind the wheel, drivers with sleep apnea (especially if untreated) may be less attentive and slower to react in an emergency. The FMCSA does disqualify those with moderate to severe sleep apnea, at least temporarily. If the driver complies with all medical treatment, he or she may get back on the road.
If a truck driver with this condition is involved in an accident, providing a Texas civil court with evidence that this condition existed and may have contributed to the crash could prove valuable. Obtaining this evidence may be problematic without help, however. You could increase your chances of a successful claim by making use of legal resources in your area.