A good night’s sleep is very important for most professionals. However, for a truck driver, a restful night of sleep can literally mean the difference between life and death. Truck drivers who drive tired have slower response times and are liable to fall asleep behind the wheel. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a key cause of commercial truck accidents.
In some cases, drowsiness is not caused just by one poor night of sleep but rather by a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. This common breathing-related disorder causes sleepers to experience short stoppages of breathing. Someone with sleep apnea may experience interruptions of breathing hundreds of times a night, several seconds at a time. Since the sleeper is unaware of what is happening, he or she may not recognize that there is a problem. It is all too easy to dismiss a feeling of fatigue.
However, sleep apnea is a problem – and a serious one at that. According to the FMCSA, up to 28% of commercial truck drivers have sleep apnea. Untreated, the disorder can easily lead to Florida car accidents and traffic accidents. Luckily, there are symptoms and signs that drivers can look for. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include sudden daytime naps, snoring, daytime drowsiness, irritability, headaches, poor concentration, memory problems, waking up in the night frequently to urinate, and depression.
Untreated sleep apnea should never be ignored. According to the FMSCA, one study has shown that commercial truck drivers with sleep apnea are more likely to cause an accident than drivers under the influence. Just as Florida drunk driving accidents are preventable, however, so are truck accidents caused by fatigue and sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is caused when the upper airway is blocked or narrowed. Once diagnosed, sleep apnea can often be treated with an airway pressure machine. In some cases, simply losing weight and avoiding alcohol can alleviate the condition. Where sleep apnea is caused by dental issues such as soft palates, jaw problems or deviated septums, surgical procedures are available. Some sufferers find that wearing oral devices or masks takes care of the problem.
Once sleep apnea is treated, the sufferer can drive as safely as anyone else and can continue their job with less risk. Some drivers, however, avoid seeking medical treatment because they fear being disqualified from being a driver. However, in many cases sleep apnea is treatable and allows drivers to resume their duties. The FMSCA urges any driver who may have sleep apnea to discuss the problem with their doctor. Doing so could save lives.
If you have been injured in a Florida truck accident, contact the Flaxman Law Group to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. Through its offices in Homestead, Hollywood, and Miami, the Flaxman Law Group has helped thousands of personal injury and truck accident victims throughout South Florida. If you are looking for a compassionate and experienced Florida attorney, contact the Flaxman Law Group today.