Untreated Sleep Apnea a Great Risk for Truck Drivers

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 3,852 people died in truck crashes in 2015, which is 34 percent higher than in 2009.[1] Although common causes of such accidents include equipment and engine failure, fatigue is a considerable factor to truck accidents and may be more of a threat to passenger vehicle drivers than people think.

According to research conducted by the University of Minnesota, the risk of being involved in a truck accident is five times greater among truck drivers who suffer from untreated sleep apnea.[2] The study, which compared more than 1,600 truck drivers diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, found that mandating treatment for truckers who have sleep apnea would drastically reduce accidents caused by truck drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel. The treatment given to affected truck drivers consisted of a mask with an air pump worn while sleeping to keep airways clear – the device auto-adjusts positive airway pressure and is electronically monitored.

Holding Truckers to a Higher Standard of Safety

In order to accurately and properly treat sleep apnea, trucking companies and employers should provide medical treatment free of out-of-pocket costs. The lead author of the study, Stephen Burks, said “to put our findings in context, if we look at 1,000 truck drivers each working for a year, the drivers with obstructive sleep apnea who refuse mandated treatment would have 70 preventable serious truck crashes, compared to 14 crashes experienced by both a control group and by drivers with sleep apnea who adhered to treatment.”

Conducting these types of studies can hopefully act as a gateway to sparking discussions for mandating testing laws and enforcing medical treatment for truck drivers who are falling asleep at the wheel. When a truck driver is put in danger, it puts all drivers he or she shares the roads with at risk of being involved in a serious, often life threatening, accident. Truck drivers are held at a higher standard when it comes to accidents, and as such, should be given the resources to ensure everyone’s safety.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, you should not be left to handle the emotional, physical, or financial repercussions on your own accord. Our Omaha truck accident attorney at Carlson & Burnett understands the importance of receiving unparalleled legal guidance and assistance. Our team is backed by decades of experience and prepared to handle your case with the utmost professionalism and care.

To schedule a free case evaluation, call Carlson & Burnett today at (402) 810-8611.

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