As much as 35% of truckers suffer from the sleep disorder called sleep apnea. In Missouri and across the U.S., some truck accidents are caused by truckers with undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea, so this is a serious concern.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type among truckers, and it occurs when the throat muscles and mouth palate relax and collapse, blocking the upper airway and stopping one’s breathing for 5 to 10 seconds at a time. This leads to fragmented sleep and less deep sleep and REM sleep, resulting in almost continual drowsiness.
Combine this drowsiness with a job where a person is behind the wheel all day, and the risk for a crash naturally spikes. Compared to well-rested drivers, truckers experiencing high levels of drowsiness are 250% more likely to crash. This is why truckers must seek medical attention once they suspect that they have a sleep disorder.
Those with OSA snore loudly and will continually gasp for air as they sleep. They may wake up with a headache, have trouble concentrating, forget things easily and be irritable throughout the day. However, there are plenty of treatments available, including mouthguards for mild OSA and CPAP machines for moderate or severe OSA. Losing weight in the neck area may be an effective treatment in the long run.
Whether truckers have OSA or overwork themselves, they should know that drowsy driving is unsafe and thus negligent. When such negligence is the cause of truck collisions, those who sustained an injury may seek compensation from the trucking company. Personal injury claims often face opposition, which is why victims may want a lawyer to represent them in negotiations and litigate if a settlement isn’t achieved. The lawyer might have third parties investigate the crash and gather proof of negligence.