Semi trucks keep the economy moving. Without them, most store shelves would empty out within a few weeks. However, these behemoths of the road also endanger the driving public. They are huge, sometimes weighing as much as 80,000 pounds. Their height and length make them much less stable than a car.
This is why truck drivers must remain focused and alert while driving. A good night’s sleep is essential for this, yet for some truck drivers, even 8 hours of sleep isn’t enough rest for safe driving. That’s because a medical condition called sleep apnea causes poor sleep quality. Truck drivers with this condition have caused horrific truck accidents because they fell asleep at the wheel.
Sleep Apnea Defined
Sleep apnea disrupts a person’s breathing when asleep. These interruptions may happen hundreds of times during the night, which prevents the person from getting quality sleep. This leaves the person feeling drowsy during the day, which is particularly dangerous while driving.
There are two kinds of sleep apnea. One is caused by problems with the brain’s control over regular breathing when the person isn’t conscious. The more common type of sleep apnea is caused by soft tissue in the throat that blocks air from reaching the lungs. Overweight people are at risk for this kind of sleep apnea because they have more soft throat tissue.
Why Truck Drivers Get Sleep Apnea
Truck drivers cover 2000-3000 miles per week. This extensive driving means their job is mostly sedentary. The lack of exercise and the fattening food common to many truck stop diners, lead to an overweight and even obese truck driver. The extra fat tissue in the driver’s throat makes him prone to sleep apnea, and thus drowsiness while driving his semi truck. There are a number of devices that enable truck drivers with sleep apnea to get quality sleep. However, too many truck drivers endanger the public because they have undiagnosed sleep apnea.
If you or a family member were injured in a truck accident by a drowsy or otherwise negligent truck driver, contact us at Hogan Injury.