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What does sleep apnea have to do with truck accidents?

Most Pittsburgh residents wouldn’t be surprised to hear that truck drivers, particularly long-haul drivers, are sleep deprived. After all, they spend hours on the road needing to remain vigilant and attentive while keeping control over a vehicle that weighs up to 80,000 pounds.

The problem is often compounded by an undiagnosed or untreated case of sleep apnea. This condition takes sleep deprivation to a new level. Truck drivers suffering from this condition are often in a constant state of tiredness, which can lead to devastating crashes.

Truck drivers and sleep apnea

Did you know that truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea at a rate that is 11 times higher than the general population? Approximately 35% of truck drivers have sleep apnea, but not all of them have received a diagnosis or are in treatment. Below are the most often cited symptoms for this condition:

  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Snoring loudly
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Feeling exhausted even after a full night’s sleep
  • Morning headaches
  • Problems paying attention
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Poor memory
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Self-medicating for headaches and sleepiness

As you can see, these symptoms can make it difficult to drive safely. Not being able to focus, pay attention or even stay awake will obviously affect a truck driver’s ability to control his or her mammoth vehicle. Irritability and depression can also affect the way that a trucker drives. In fact, this condition can increase the risk of a truck driver causing an accident by as much as 250% over drivers who get good rest.

What happens if you encounter one of these truck drivers?

Unfortunately, the risk of you encountering a truck driver with issues arising from sleep apnea is probably higher than you think. If you end up in a crash with a tractor-trailer, you will most likely suffer serious injuries. You may need extensive medical care and spend a great deal of time recovering from your injuries. Your life may never be the same, and you may feel as though you have no control over your life.

Regaining that control may mean pursuing the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled. However, attempting to navigate through settlement negotiations or a lawsuit alone would most likely cause you a significant amount of stress and frustration, which will not help your recovery or your case. Working with a personal injury attorney to pursue compensation for your injuries and other damages could help get your life back on track, reduce your stress and allow you to focus on your recovery.