Sleep Apnea, Fatigued Drivers, and Virginia Beach Truck Accidents

One cause of truck accidents that is becoming more common in the cases that our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer handles is fatigued driving. Multiple studies have found that many of these truck drivers also suffer from sleep apnea.

A person suffering from sleep apnea typically has pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while they are sleeping. These pauses can last up to one minute. In one hour, these pauses can occur up to 30 times. With each pause, a person who is in a deep sleep shifts into a light sleep. This continual sleep interruption leaves them feeling exhausted the next day because they are not getting a good quality night’s sleep. Estimates are that there are more than 25 million people who suffer from the chronic disorder.

One of the most common treatment methods for sleep apnea is positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy. Auto-adjusting machines blow streams of air through a mask that the sufferer wears while they are sleeping.

Sleep Apnea Study

In one study conducted by researchers from the Virginia Technical Institute, it was concluded that tractor-trailer drivers who suffer from sleep apnea and fail to follow a treatment program are five times more likely to be involved in a serious truck accident.

The study involved 3,226 truck drivers. All of the drivers had similar job experience and approximately the same length of time working as truck drivers. Half of the participants suffered from sleep apnea, and the other half did not.

The drivers who suffered from sleep apnea were given an auto-adjusting machine that they could use both on the road and at home. The machines contained an internal memory chip, which enabled researchers to download data to see if the driver assigned to the machine was complying with the recommended treatment.

Participants who failed to follow the PAP therapy program were either let go from their jobs or quit voluntarily. However, the researchers pointed out that under current federal regulations, truck drivers are not required to disclose a diagnosis of sleep apnea, which allows them to go work for a new trucking company if they are dismissed from another one.

The study’s results revealed that in one year, 1,000 truck drivers suffering from sleep apnea who refused to follow treatment would have 70 preventable serious tractor-trailer accidents, whereas drivers who either followed treatment or did not suffer from sleep apnea would only have 14 preventable truck accidents in that same period.

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm

If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact an experienced Virginia truck accident attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have against the party or parties responsible for the crash. Truck accident claims can be more complex than other types of vehicle accidents because there are often multiple at-fault parties responsible for the financial damages victims may be entitled to.

Our Virginia accident attorneys have extensive legal experience helping truck accident victims get the compensation they deserve, like the $350,000 truck accident insurance settlement we obtained for one client who suffered a fractured kneecap that required multiple surgeries and rehabilitation.

Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free case evaluation and find out how we can help.