Posted On: October 28, 2009 by Steven J. Malman

Preventing Truck Accidents: NTSB Wants FMCSA to Put in Place Program to Treat Truckers with Sleep Apnea

The National Transportation Safety Board is suggesting to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that it put together a program to identify commercial truckers who are at high risk of suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. The NTSB is recommending that the FMCSA withhold medical certification until a worker proves that he or she has been medically examined and either doesn’t have OSA or is getting treatment for the disorder.

Sleep apnea has been cited as a factor in a number of US trucking accidents. In one case, a tractor-trailer crashed into a police car, killing the officer in the vehicle, and then drove across a median, injuring another driver. The trucker was suffering from sleep apnea.

According to a recent study, 12 – 17% of drivers do suffer from “significant” obstructive sleep apnea. Some members of the trucking industry, however, dispute that there is a link between OSA and truck crashes.

Regardless, drowsy driving (whether the motorist is suffering from a sleeping disorder or didn’t get enough sleep or is just tired after a long day of work) is known to cause catastrophic truck collisions and other deadly motor vehicle accidents. If a person is suffering from sleep apnea, managing to stay awake while driving can be tough—especially when the driver is driving long distances for hours at a time. A trucker who is driving a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler truck, or another kind of large truck while his or her mind is foggy or who has fallen asleep is a danger to pedestrians and the occupants of other vehicles.

About 18 million people in the US suffer from OSA. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, because many investigators are not properly trained to identify the role sleepiness plays in causing a traffic crash, this contributing factor can get overlooked.

Getting behind the wheel of any motor vehicle when you are drunk, drowsy, or distracted is careless conduct. The negligent trucker, car driver, motorcyclist or bus driver can be held liable for Chicago injury or wrongful death.

Sleep apnea program should be law: US safety board, Today's Trucking, October 22, 2009

Study Says Number of Truck Accidents Might Go Down If Truckers Were Tested for Sleep Apnea, ChicagoTruckAccidentLawyerBlog, March 29, 2009

Sleep Apnea and Driving, American Sleep Apnea Association

Related Web Resources:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea

National Transportation Safety Board

Please contact our Chicago truck accident law firm and ask to speak with Chicago Injury Attorney Steve Malman.

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