Fatigue related large truck accidents have haunted the trucking industry since the birth of its existence. Drivers receiving payment by the mile combined with deadlines to reach lengthy destinations are just some of the factors that tempt truckers to ditch sleep and drive as much as possible. Although, some truckers irresponsibly drive during resting periods, a new study reveals that the American Trucking Association may have been overlooking a serious medical condition that has possibly contributed to rising truck driving accidents caused by fatigue.
The study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, found that approximately one-third of all licensed commercial drivers have been diagnosed with mild to severe sleep apnea - a disorder that causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing disrupt sleep and are known to cause immoderate daytime drowsiness. Drowsy driving accounts for at least 328,000 accidents a year, and it's been proven that people diagnosed with sleep apnea are five times more likely to crash than the average driver. Since this condition is often untreated, it can pose a real risk for drivers on the road who are unaware they are suffering or don't think they have a condition.
Fatal Trucking Accident Caused by Drowsy Driving
In fact, drowsy driving was a factor in the high profile accident that resulted in the death of comedian James McNair and nearly took the life of Tracy Morgan in 2014. Just one day before the crash, the Walmart truck driver at fault for the accident started his work day at 11 a.m. and drove for approximately 13.5 hours, about 800 miles. He did not get any sleep the night before. At 12:55 a.m., the trucker entered a construction zone on the New Jersey Turnpike that caused traffic to slow down to less than 10 miles per hour. Although traffic had slowed significantly, his truck remained at a speed of 65 miles per hour, striking McNair and Morgan's limo bus from behind. After a thorough investigation, police revealed that fatigue had affected the driver's reaction time and decreased his awareness, causing him to fail to reduce his speed and hit the brakes at the appropriate time.
Efforts Made to Decrease Accidents Caused by Sleep Apnea
In the wake of this startling information regarding truck drivers, the federal government is gradually making strides towards a mandate requiring that truck companies screen commercial drivers for obstructive sleep apnea. The Department of Transportation along with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration already took the first step in initiating the process by gathering public comments about the public health issue during the summer of this year. However, details about what the implemented mandate would mean for drivers diagnosed and the effect it would have on their occupation are still unclear.
Experienced Trucking Accident Attorneys
If you have been harmed as a result of the negligence of a truck driver, you may be eligible for compensation. The Brod Law Firm in Philadelphia is dedicated to giving you the best possible results possible. Contact them online or call 1-888-435-7946 (888-HELPWIN) for a free consultation. We serve all of the state of Pennsylvania from our offices in Philadelphia, Reading and Bala Cynwyd.