State and federal regulators long ago honed in on sleep deprivation as a frequent cause of truck accidents. To that end, despite widespread opposition from the commercial trucking industry, hours of service rules were passed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2014. The rules allow commercial truck drivers to drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours or 10 hours of drive time after eight consecutive off-duty hours. However, Chester County truck accident lawyers note that even with these built-in breaks, truck drivers could still be sleep-deprived when taking the wheel if they suffer from sleep apnea.
Categorized by the American Medical Association as a serious sleep disorder, sleep apnea occurs whenever breathing is obstructed or otherwise interrupted during sleep. Because sufferers of sleep apnea never enjoy the benefits of deep sleep they are sleep-deprived upon waking in the morning. Deep or slow-wave sleep is needed for the body to prepare itself physically and mentally for the day ahead. With each interruption, a sleeping individual is reverted to a lighter and less restorative stage of sleep.
In recognition of the obvious risks presented by a truck driver suffering from sleep apnea, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and FMCSA have proposed a rule which would require all commercial drivers to be tested for the disorder. Sleep apnea is difficult to diagnose without a sleep study because many who suffer from the disorder may not be aware they are waking during the night. Snoring, irritability and feeling groggy or disoriented even after a full night’s sleep indicate the potential for sleep apnea.
The window for public comments on the joint NTSB and FMCSA proposal recently closed. In support of its position, the FMCSA cited a study by the University of Pennsylvania that demonstrated as many as 28% of commercial truck drivers may suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. Members of various trade associations representing the trucking industry have vowed to fight the initiative, which would apply not only to commercial truck drivers but also to bus drivers and train operators.
Chester County Truck Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Seek Justice for Truck Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident caused by a drowsy driver, the Chester County truck accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC will investigate your claim. Complete our online form or call 215-569-8488 today to schedule a free initial consultation. At our offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware we proudly represent clients from throughout the surrounding region.