Testing for Tired Truck Drivers Put to Bed

One may argue that, because government and industry officials were asleep at the wheel in protecting the driving public, that same public will continue to fall victim to dangerously tired truck drivers behind the wheel.

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that makes sleeping difficult.  It causes constant and small interruptions throughout the night. This lack of restful overnight sleep typically means those with sleep apnea are extraordinarily tired during the day.  They also can lack concentration and suffer from depression.

Some estimates say 22 percent of the U.S. population has sleep apnea.  However, sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed

Truck Drivers with Sleep Apnea

In 2016, the federal government proposed a new rule that mandated sleep apnea testing for certain truckers.  It was based on common characteristics of sleep apnea sufferers and truck drivers, which include:

·         Age 40 or older

·         Smokers

·         Overweight

According to the new rule, truck drivers most likely to have sleep apnea – those seriously overweight with a body mass index over 40, for example – would be proactively tested.  Truckers found to have sleep apnea would receive treatment and then have to be cleared by certified medical examiners to go back to work.

The proposed rule was a first for the trucking industry.  There is no umbrella system currently in place for testing truck drivers for this dangerous medical condition.

Fatigued Truck Drivers and Fatal Accidents

The new administration recently killed the proposed rule before it was implemented, citing economic costs versus projected benefits.  These benefits would include innocent lives saved, as tired, unfocused truckers are a known leading cause of fatal trucking accidents.

The federal government didn’t act on its own.  It was prodded by the trucking industry, which long led the economic arguments against this safety measure.  Trucking concerns contended that testing truck drivers for sleep apnea simply would be unwieldy and too costly, despite the public safety benefits.

There are many other causes of catastrophic truck accidents: truckers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, trucking companies that improperly maintain or repair their rigs, and more.  And they are preventable.  A number of future fatal wrecks caused by tired truckers may have been prevented, too, if only trucking companies hadn’t fought this sleep apnea testing.

If you had a family member die or if you were seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, consult a truck accident attorney for a thorough investigation into why it happened and who is responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, posted in Blog August 18, 2017