Sleep apnea and truck accidents: how are they related?

There are certain medical conditions that make it unsafe for people to drive unless they seek medical treatment. Commercial truck drivers, in order to keep their jobs, must meet certain health standards. Authorities simply mean this as a safety measure, as truck accidents tend to have severe, if not fatal, consequences. Unfortunately, not all truck drivers seek medical help or use prescribed treatment. If you or a loved one have suffered because of the choices of a non-compliant truck driver, you may have legal recourse.

One medical condition that affects quite a few truck drivers is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects nearly 25 million Americans, and can hinder one's ability to function while awake.

What is sleep apnea?

A person who has sleep apnea stops or struggles to breathe as he or she sleeps. This causes one to experience low oxygen levels and even disrupts the sleep cycle. Most people with sleep apnea do not even know that they have it. The most noticeable sign of the disorder is excessive daytime tiredness. Most people just chalk it up to a bad night's sleep.

Treatment

There are several ways to treat sleep apnea. Sleep medicine professionals tend to recommend positive airway pressure therapy, though, as it is generally the most successful treatment option. The hardest part is adjusting to breathing with the machine. Because it can be a challenge, many people fail to use the therapy at all or as prescribed.

Why does it matter if truck drivers get treatment?

As previously mentioned, sleep apnea causes a person to be extremely tired during his or her waking hours. This can cause him or her to fall asleep at inopportune times or to make careless mistakes. If a truck driver does not get the treatment he or she needs, others may get hurt or lose their lives in the accidents that may result.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, truck drivers who have untreated sleep apnea are more likely to cause auto collisions -- five times more likely, in fact. Drivers can easily avoid such incidents with treatment, however. Studies have shown that just four hours of PAP therapy greatly reduces accidents related to sleep apnea.

Injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident?

New York residents who have been injured or lost loved ones in truck accidents may seek compensation for their losses. If this applies to you, you may seek assistance from an experienced attorney who will be able to help you file the legal actions applicable to your case against the truck driver and/or her or her employer.

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