Commercial truck drivers are under tremendous pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines, so they often drive long hours through the night. While federal hours of service regulations state that drivers may not go more than 14 consecutive hours without a break, truck drivers repeatedly violate these rules to make their deliveries on time. Unfortunately, this means that truck drivers often drive on too little sleep, which can increase the risk of a truck accident.
In addition, a significant percentage of truck drivers suffer from a range of sleep disorders that can impact their safety and endanger other motorists in the vicinity. According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, truck drivers are approximately six times more likely to have sleep apnea than the regular population. Another study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that nearly 29 percent of truck drivers suffer from unspecified sleep disorders, 27.5 percent suffer from insomnia, and up to half of all truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea.
What Sleep Disorders Are Common in Truck Drivers?
A wide range of sleep disorders can cause a truck driver to become drowsy when operating a massive 80,000-pound commercial truck. The following are the most common sleep disorders among truck drivers:
- Insomnia: This is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. A recent study involving 949 truck drivers found that 27.5 percent suffered from insomnia. The study also found that these truck drivers were two times more likely to be involved in a truck accident and three times more likely to be in a near-miss accident.
- Sleep apnea: This sleep disorder causes a person to stop and start breathing while asleep repeatedly.
Additionally, psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression can lead to drug and alcohol dependency, harming sleep quality. Some truck drivers turn to alcohol, prescription medication, over-the-counter medicine, and other drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana to stay awake.
What Are the Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea?
The first step in treating sleep apnea is to diagnose the condition properly. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include headaches, difficulty concentrating, and excessive drowsiness during the day. The most common treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea is a CPAP machine worn during sleep. The device increases air pressure in the throat, preventing the airway from collapsing when breathing in. Truck drivers who suffer from sleep apnea feel much more rested and refreshed after using a CPAP machine. Some even report improvements in other medical conditions like cardiac issues, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
In addition to fatigue, the following are some of the risks associated with untreated sleep apnea, all of which can increase the risk of a severe truck accident:
- Cardiac risk
How Can I Avoid a Truck Accident Involving a Drowsy Driver?
If you are driving near a large truck, there are several steps you can take to avoid being in a severe accident. Keep the following tips in mind when sharing the road with a commercial truck:
- Increase your following distance when driving behind a large truck. This will give you more road space to come to a stop, change lanes, or swerve out of the way.
- Never cut off a large truck. Commercial vehicles require significantly more road space to come to a complete stop.
- Stay out of the truck’s blind spots. A general rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the truck driver’s face in the mirror, the truck driver cannot see you.
- Avoid distracted driving. Focus on the road, mainly when driving near a commercial truck.
Dayton Truck Accident Lawyers at Wright & Schulte, LLC Represent Clients Injured in Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents
If you were seriously injured in a drowsy driving truck accident, do not hesitate to contact our Dayton truck accident lawyers at Wright & Schulte, LLC. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 937-222-7477 or contact us online. Located in Dayton, Ohio, we serve clients in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Centerville, Toledo, Youngstown, and Miamisburg.