Truck drivers and sleep apnea

Truck drivers in Connecticut should expect to encounter more regulations regarding sleep apnea. This is due to the United States Supreme Court’s decision to not review a case in which a driver alleged that a truck carrier violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring that he be tested.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical disorder that causes breathing to be interrupted during sleep. OSA is the most frequently occurring type of sleep apnea. Contributing factors of the condition include poor physical fitness, inadequate diet, obesity, poor sleep patterns and smoking. Medical complications that arise from OSA include cardiovascular ailments, complications with surgery and medicine, vision problems and fatigue. The risk of OSA associated with truckers is that it can cause them to become drowsy behind the wheel and get into an accident.

According to a study that was conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, truck drivers who have OSA and do not receive treatment cause preventable crashes five times more often than truckers who do not suffer from the condition. It is estimated to up to 20 percent of semi-truck accidents are the result of drowsy driving.

There are currently no federal regulations for treating or keeping track of sleep apnea among transportation workers, although guidelines have been in the works for over a year. However, because of the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case, it is likely that truck drivers will begin to see an increase in monitoring and more work rules regarding sleep apnea.

People in other vehicles who are injured in a crash caused by truck driver fatigue often are unable to return to work while they are receiving the necessary medical treatment. They may want to have the help of an attorney when seeking compensation for their financial losses from the at-fault driver.