Affecting over 25 million Americans, sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s upper airways frequently close while he or she is sleeping. This can prevent them from getting a proper night’s sleep. Sufferers shift back and forth between deep and light sleep due to breathing interruptions. This causes them to be drowsy during the day, and in some cases, may cause them to fall asleep at the wheel.
Sleep apnea is also known to cause cardiovascular issues, so it is important to recognize the symptoms and get proper treatment. Signs of sleep apnea can include snoring, extreme fatigue during the day, or pauses in breathing. People experiencing one or more of these symptoms should be seen by a medical professional. Doctors can diagnose sleep apnea with an overnight sleep study.
Truck Drivers May Benefit from Using CPAP Machines
Growing evidence shows that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are an effective treatment to reduce drowsiness in sleep apnea sufferers. CPAP machines are devices worn at night that increase air pressure in the throat by blowing air, encouraging more restful sleep. Researchers performed a study of 2,000 sleep apnea sufferers, and found those who regularly used CPAP machines showed significant improvement in the number of drowsy driving incidents.
Another study, funded by Harvard and the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence, examined data from major motor carrier, Schneider National. Researchers compared drivers with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) versus drivers without the disorder. They then compared the rate of preventable truck accidents across both groups. Drivers with sleep apnea were monitored to see if they were compliant with regularly using CPAP machines, versus using them only occasionally or not at all. The compliant and regular users of CPAP machines had a crash rate in line with truckers who did not have the disorder at all. The drivers with OSA who infrequently or never used the CPAP machine had preventable incident rates five times greater than those who adhered to regular CPAP usage.
Every two years, truckers must undergo an exam to determine their ability to safely operate a truck. Unfortunately, the study lacks proper OSA screening due to lack of evidence regarding the link between increased crash risk and drivers who suffer from OSA. The Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requested additional feedback regarding the effectiveness of treatments such as CPAP, as well as the cost and benefit of implementing regulations to make the screening mandatory for drivers. Many drivers argue that implementing regulatory action would be intrusive.
Delaware Truck Accident Lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC Offer Support for Victims of Truck Accidents
Attorneys at the law offices of McCann & Wall, LLC are dedicated to providing legal representation to individuals facing injuries from all types of accidents. Our experienced team of Delaware truck accident lawyers strive to seek maximum compensation for our clients. Call us today at 302-304-8047 or submit an online contact form to schedule a consultation in our Wilmington, Delaware office.