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Sleep apnea’s impact on trucking safety

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Truck Accidents

There are many factors that can increase the risk of being involved in a truck crash. Hours of service regulation violations, improper truck maintenance, inadequate cargo securement, and poor driver training can all play a role. Yet, one often overlooked aspect of safe trucking practices is sufficient treatment of those medical conditions that impact driving ability.

The problem here is that the trucking industry operates in significant part on an honor system. While there are some medical conditions that can outright disqualify an individual from driving a semi-truck, such as some heart conditions, epilepsy, and conditions that cause vertigo, there are several other conditions that fall into a gray area. If a trucker suffers from a condition that simply might cause a safety issue, they won’t automatically be disqualified.

Sleep apnea and trucking

Let’s take a look at sleep apnea as an example. This is a medical condition that causes breathing disruptions during sleep. In turn, these disruptions force an individual to wake up tens, sometimes even hundreds of times a night, leading to excessive fatigue and tiredness. It’s easy to see how this condition can negatively impact a driver’s ability to operate their truck. Reaction times can be increased, and overall attentiveness and awareness can be diminished, thereby increasing the risk of being involved in a serious truck accident.

Yet, despite the risks involved when individuals with sleep apnea take to the road, federal regulations don’t automatically disqualify those who suffer from this condition from operating a big rig. Instead, these drivers simply have to show that their condition is being treated.

Fortunately, these truckers have to go through a medical examination and be deemed medically qualified to drive befpre taking to the road. The issue, of course, is how sleep apnea sufferers report their condition and its impact on their ability to function.

Can you use a trucker’s medical condition to build your personal injury case?

Yes, so long as you can gain access to their medical records. This information can be highly relevant to your case, demonstrating how the trucker and their employer were negligent in putting a dangerous driver out on the road. Gaining access to medical records may be challenging, but there are legal maneuvers that you might be able to deploy to your advantage. And you might be able to acquire preliminary information you need to identify whether a medical issue is in play by securing access to the truck company’s personnel files.

Is this the only area you need to focus on in your truck crash case?

Absolutely not. There are likely several other indicators of negligence in your case, such as violation of traffic laws and federal regulations. The key is to take a holistic approach to your case so that you gather as much evidence as possible to show that your accident and your harm was caused by negligence. Your attorney can help you figure out where you need to look to gather the evidence that you need.

Don’t leave your truck wreck case to chance

The outcome of your truck accident personal injury case can play a key role in your financial stability and your ability to successfully recover from your injuries. In other words, there’s a lot on the line. That’s why you need to build a robust case that puts your interests at the forefront. That might be stressful to think about, but you don’t have to navigate your case in a vacuum. Instead, you can surround yourself with the support and guidance that you need to get through this tough time in your life.