Anyone who has ever driven across the country, or just across Texas, knows how tiring it can be. This is why truck drivers only have permission to drive so many hours a day before they must spend a certain number of hours off the road resting in order to combat fatigue.
The rules regarding “hours of service” are to reduce the number of truck crashes, and they may work in some cases. However, just because a driver is supposed to be resting doesn’t mean he or she gets the amount of rest needed to remain safe on the road.
It isn’t just fatigue you have to worry about
If it was just a matter of making sure truck drivers get adequate sleep, the situation may not be quite as bad. However, up to one-third of all truckers suffer from a condition of which fatigue is a symptom — sleep apnea. In fact, truck drivers tend to suffer from this condition 11 times more often than everyone else. Why does this matter? Because people with sleep apnea often fail to get good rest, and the risk of causing an accident when compared to people who are well-rested rises to 250%.
There are a multitude of symptoms that could indicate sleep apnea, but the ones that you may want to know about because they affect your safety when traveling around 18-wheelers include the following:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Poor memory
- Attention problems
It isn’t hard to imagine that the above symptoms could make it a challenge to drive safely. To make matters worse, you have no idea which truck drivers suffer from undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea. When properly treated, this condition may not affect a truck driver’s ability to operate a vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
What does this mean in the aftermath of a crash?
One of the first tasks when pursuing compensation in the aftermath of a truck accident is to determine what factors led to it. If fatigue played a role in the crash, it may be because the truck driver suffers from sleep apnea. Knowing this could help establish negligence in a personal injury claim, which is necessary in order for the court to consider awarding you the compensation and other damages to which you may be entitled.