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Truck drivers with sleep apnea are more likely to cause accidents

There are various medical conditions that can affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Truck drivers, whether they reside in California or elsewhere, who have one of these conditions, are required by law to seek treatment in order to keep their jobs. Unfortunately, some fail to stick to the prescribed treatment and accidents happen as a result.

Sleep apnea is a medical condition that plagues numerous people. A person with sleep apnea stops or struggles to breathe while he or she sleeps. This in turn affects sleep cycles and oxygen levels and prevents him or her from getting the restorative sleep he or she needs to properly function during the day.

What causes sleep apnea?

There are three basic types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and hypopnea. All of them can have the same effects on the body.

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, it means that, while you sleep, the soft tissue in your throat is blocking your airway, causing you to stop breathing completely. Central sleep apnea, in short, means that your brain sends a signal that you do not need to breathe because the levels of CO2 in your body are already low. Finally, hypopnea is a partial obstruction of the airway. One can still breathe, but the amount of oxygen coming in is less than ideal.

Treating sleep apnea

There are various treatments available for sleep apnea. These include:

  • CPAP/BIPAP machines
  • Dental devices
  • Surgery

Currently, the most effective form or treatment is the use of CPAP/BIPAP machines. They can be difficult to get used to, but they work when used nightly.

How does this condition affect truck drivers?

Truck drivers are on the road for extended periods of time. Getting tired when behind the wheel can happen to anybody, but when sleep apnea is an issue, it greatly increases the odds that one may cause an accident. A study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea are five times more likely to cause accidents than their counterparts who do not have the condition.

Because of the public safety threat that this issue creates, a doctor must test truck drivers if they show any signs of the condition, in order for them to keep their professional licenses. They must also adhere to treatment or risk losing their licenses.

Injured in an accident with a non-compliant truck driver?

The injuries suffered by victims who have been in accidents with semitrailers can be life-altering. If you have suffered injuries after being in a truck accident with a truck driver who is not complying with his or her prescribed medical treatment for sleep apnea, you may seek compensation for your losses. An attorney can assist you in filing a personal injury claim against the driver and possibly his or her employer.

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