According to the AAA Foundation, as many as 300, 000 automobile accidents each year may be caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Moreover, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that around 1, 200 annual deaths are attributed to drowsy driving. Though not responsible for all of the crashes, commercial drivers are thought to make up a considerable portion of these accidents. However, if the government moves forward with mandatory sleep apnea testing for truck drivers, bus drivers, and rail workers, that may all soon change.
Sleep Apnea in the United States
A recent study from the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, in which almost one-third of drivers admitted to having trouble keeping their eyes open while driving, tells us what we already know: we live in a sleep deprived society. For some, it is a matter of lifestyle or over-extension of our schedules. But for more than 25 million Americans, the problem is likely attributed to sleep apnea—a silent, and often untreated condition.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which breathing shallows or completely stops while sleeping. Those pauses disrupt sleeping patterns and can cause excessive daytime fatigue. Most people, however, do not know they have the condition. In fact, estimates suggest that between 85 and 90 percent of sleep apnea sufferers are unaware that they have the disorder.
Study Suggests Sleep Apnea Testing Would Make Roads Safer
Commercial drivers are not immune to sleep apnea; they suffer from it at the same rates as everyone else. The big difference is that commercial drivers are driving large vehicles with the potential to kill dozens, if not hundreds, of people all at once—and that is under circumstances that may be out of their control (another driver cutting them off, pulling out in front of them, hovering in their blind spot, etc.). The consequences of falling asleep can take those numbers to devastating amounts.
It is this devastation, and the positive results of mandatory testing on airline pilots (a 73 percent reduction in preventable accidents among those treated for sleep apnea), that has lawmakers considering mandatory testing for truck, bus, and railway drivers. Still, there are many who oppose the movement, despite the suggested benefits; we can only hope the government makes the right choice for the general public.
Victim of a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck, bus, or railway accident, there are most likely costly expenses associated with care or final arrangements. In instances where negligence played a part, this cost should be covered by the responsible party. [[title]] can help you pursue that compensation and provide you with aggressive representation through the entire process. Call our offices at 920-739-7366 and schedule your free initial consultation with an Appleton trucking accident attorney or Green Bay trucking accident attorney today.