According to traffic safety experts, drowsy driving is a major problem on roads in North Carolina and nationwide. Sleep apnea is one of the reasons drivers aren’t getting enough rest, and research shows that truckers are up to 11 times more likely to suffer from it.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes people to temporarily stop breathing while they sleep. This problem can be caused by a brain problem, but it often occurs because an individual’s palate and throat muscles collapse during sleep. Being significantly overweight is a known risk factor for the condition. While approximately 4% of the general population suffers from sleep apnea, up to 35% of truck drivers have the condition.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, attention difficulties, irritability, high blood pressure and diabetes. Over time, it can also cause hypertension and heart disease. People who suffer from the condition also tend to experience excessive daytime drowsiness, which can make driving extremely dangerous. In fact, studies show that fatigued drivers who experience sleep-deprivation and interrupted breathing during sleep are up to 250% more likely to get into a crash than drivers who are well-rested. To reduce the risk of truck accidents, traffic safety experts recommend that all at-risk truckers get medical screenings for sleep apnea.
Truckers who cause truck accidents could be held responsible in civil court. With the help of an attorney, injured victims might be able to prove that a truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel is legally liable for the crash that ensued. This might lead to a financial settlement that covers a victim’s medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish and other crash-related losses. Victims could learn more about their legal rights by contacting a law firm that handles truck accident claims.