Truck drivers in North Carolina and elsewhere are around 11 times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than the general population, according to research. This is concerning because the disorder often makes people feel excessively drowsy during waking hours, which could lead to serious commercial truck accidents.
There are three main types of sleep apnea: central, complex and obstructive. However, truck drivers are most likely to suffer from obstructive, which occurs when someone’s mouth palate and throat muscles collapse while he or she is sleeping. This causes the sufferer to temporarily stop breathing and wake up gasping for breath multiple times each night.
Sleep apnea is linked to obesity, and it can cause a number of health problems if left untreated. For example, due to lack of quality sleep, sufferers can experience morning headaches, concentration difficulties, irritability and depression. Over a period of time, the condition can also lead to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Finally, the combination of interrupted breathing and fragmented sleep can cause extreme daytime drowsiness, which can increase the risk of traffic accidents by up to 250%. Because of this, traffic safety experts encourage all truckers at risk for sleep apnea to get screened for the condition as soon as possible.
Truck drivers are required to maintain safe control of their vehicles at all times. Because of this, drowsy truck drivers who cause commercial truck accidents could be found legally liable for any injuries that result from a crash. With the help of an attorney, injured victims might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault trucker. If successful, this action may lead to a financial settlement that compensates the victim for his or her medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property loss, mental anguish and other damages related to the accident.