Driving a truck is hard, physically demanding work. Most truckers are on the road for long hours at a time, getting only a few days off here and there. Sleeping problems often result, which increases the risk of drowsy driving-related truck accidents. Sleep apnea is common in the trucking industry and a frequent culprit in these crashes.
Sleep Apnea a Common Problem Among Truckers
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing periodically stops and restarts while you rest. It is a serious illness that has the potential to be life-threatening if left untreated. According to a January 2, 2020 report by the trucking industry experts at Freight Waves, while only four percent of the general popular suffers from sleep apnea, more than one-third of all truckers experience symptoms at some point in their careers.
There are several types of the disorder, with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) the most common in the trucking industry. While asleep, the sufferer’s upper airways become blocked for a period of five to ten seconds at a time, limiting the supply of oxygen to the brain. This can result in hypertension and heart disease. It also keeps the person from getting the type of deep, restorative sleep their body needs to function properly. Those with OSA often awaken multiple times during the night gasping for air. Other symptoms are likely to include:
- Morning headaches;
- Poor memory;
- Attention problems;
- Trouble staying awake during the day;
- High blood pressure.
In severe cases, the individual could end up suffering a heart attack or stroke. OAS and other types of sleep disorders can be managed once a diagnosis is made. Mouthguards that keep airways open and a CPAP machine that maintains proper air pressure through a mask worn over the face can help, as can losing weight and sleeping on your side. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
Reducing Drowsy Driving Risks
Conditions such as sleep apnea increase drowsy driving risks, a common cause of crashes and collisions, particularly among truckers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), being tired is listed as a factor in nearly 15 percent of truck accidents. The actual figures are likely significantly higher as many of these cases go unreported.
Getting a medical diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea is the first step in ensuring driver safety. Other tips that can help truckers prevent truck accidents include:
- Try to get eight hours of sleep at night, regardless of whether you are on the road;
- Eat a healthy diet, which helps to control blood sugar levels;
- Take frequent breaks and nap as needed;
- Avoid medications that may make you more drowsy and stimulants which only mask the problem.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have been involved in a truck accident and suspect drowsy driving is a factor, reach out to the Johnston Law Firm, P.C. We help victims get the compensation they need to recover. To schedule a consultation, call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Portland truck accident attorneys online today.