Sleep Apnea Affects Nearly a Third of Commercial Truck Drivers

big truck driving down the highway

Commercial truckloads can easily exceed 100,000 pounds. Safely traveling at highway speeds with that amount of weight behind you takes focus and skill. Anything that affects a driver's ability to concentrate on his or her job can mean devastating, even deadly results.

That's why the results of a recent study examining driver fatigue are so concerning. Conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations, the study found that 28 percent of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea, an all-too-common disorder that causes interruptions of breathing during sleep.

Those with the condition can experience interruptions in their breathing - and thus, sleeping - that last 10 seconds or more and may occur up to 400 times per night. The startling result is hundreds, even thousands of sleep-deprived big-rig drivers on America's roadways each day. Considering that statistics show driver fatigue accounts for upward of 35-40 percent of all commercial truck accidents, it's clear that sleep apnea is a major issue for not just the trucking industry, but for the millions of families and individuals sharing the roadways with truck drivers whose ability to concentrate is diminished. That inability to focus on the job at hand poses a significant risk of accident, injury, and even death at any moment.

To help curb the problem, federal officials are working to develop new safety rules governing the identification, testing, and treatment of drivers with sleep apnea. In the meantime, if you or someone you love suffer an injury or loss caused by a fatigued or otherwise unsafe driver, call 877-798-7700 to speak with a dedicated truck accident attorney with Gainesville's Schackow & Mercadante.