We have previously written on this blog about the risks and prevalence of trucking accidents in Connecticut and throughout the U.S. And while there are many common causes of truck crashes, truck-driver fatigue is near the top of the list.
Why are drivers so tired? Part of it is the ever-shifting schedule that many truckers must keep. When humans don’t keep a regular sleep cycle, the quality of sleep can diminish greatly. But perhaps one of the biggest factors underlying fatigue is a condition that many truckers may not know they have: obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be thought of as a much more dangerous version of snoring. During sleep, the tissues in the mouth and throat collapse, making it harder to breathe. In fact, those with OSA can stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds at a time. And the cycle can repeat hundreds of times throughout their night of sleep.
Even if someone with OSA doesn’t wake up from the disturbed breathing, their quality of sleep is dangerously low. They often wake up even more tired than when they went to bed. And during their waking hours, they show all the classic problems of sleep deprivation, including mental fog, inability to pay attention and nodding off. In other words, they show symptoms that you never want to see in someone driving one of the largest vehicles on the road.
Trucking companies are responsible for screening and monitoring the drivers they hire to ensure that they are safe to drive. Truckers themselves are responsible for seeking a proper diagnosis of OSA and then managing it through the use of a CPAP machine that keeps their airways open at night. Obstructive sleep apnea can also be greatly reduced (in many cases) by losing weight and living a more active lifestyle.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in truck accident, driver fatigue may have been the cause, and OSA may have been the underlying reason. In order to better understand the causes of the crash and your legal options in the aftermath, please consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.