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Increasing Epidemic: Sleep Apnea in Truck Drivers

The issue of sleep apnea and truck drivers has continued to be a reoccurring topic in news reports, as well as, the common cause of commercial vehicle accidents resulting in injury or fatality around the nation. Every Chicago truck accident lawyer at Levin & Perconti believe that now, more than ever, is the perfect opportunity to educate our Illinois trucking accident blog readers about this common medical disorder.

According to a recent article posted on HuffingtonPost.com, which discusses the frequent link between sleep apnea and obese semi truck drivers, defined obstructive sleep apnea as a disorder which is commonly characterized by having pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep which ultimately creates disrupted sleep. The medical issue of sleep apnea is most common in individuals who are overweight and poses a severe threat during roadway travel. Truckers who have sleep apnea can often prove dangerous due to the fact that sleep apnea frequently causes daytime drowsiness – which proves increasing fatal for drivers of 80,000 pound commercial vehicles.

Two government advisory panels recently released a recommendation that would call for all obese commercial vehicle drivers with a body mass index of 35 or higher be screened for sleep apnea. This recommendation, which was developed at the public meeting of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and the Medical Review Board, will be further discussed and reviewed early next year. Additional recommendations on the concept of mandated sleep apnea screenings for truck drivers will be finalized before presentation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

According to an article posted on Today’s Trucking, if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration agrees to implement the proposed recommendations, it would ultimately lead to guidance on the proper steps to take of a commercial vehicle driver does not pass the screening test. Our Chicago trucking accident lawyers read that the guidance would include conditions that would cause for immediate commercial vehicle driver disqualification, such as falling asleep at the wheel or involvement in a fatigued-related collision. Additional guidance allows for a semi truck driver to obtain a 60-day conditional card during evaluation and treatment of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous condition that could lead to tragic collisions if not properly diagnosed and treated. Our Illinois accident attorneys are thrilled to learn that topic of sleep apnea and truck drivers is garnering nationwide attention and promoting safe driving habits for drivers of large commercial vehicles.