Commercial Truck Drivers with Sleep Apnea Are Dangerous

When thinking about how many large trucks you see on the highway, is it possible that you’ve driven by a truck driver with untreated sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), significantly increases a driver’s risk of being involved in a fatigue-related motor vehicle accident. If sleep apnea goes untreated, it can cause extreme daytime sleepiness, which impairs judgment, leads to attention problems, decreases reaction times, and lowers alertness.

Data provided by the FMCSA notes that as many as 28 percent of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders are affected by sleep apnea. In addition, one study noted by the FMCSA discovered that motorists with untreated sleep apnea performed worse on tests than health subjects who were alert and had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) exceeding the federal limit for operating a commercial motor vehicle.

A motor carrier or employer of a commercial truck driver legally is not supposed to allow a driver to operate a large truck or other commercial motor vehicle if the driver has a medical condition, such as sleep apnea, that negatively influences their capabilities of safely driving the vehicle. In order for a truck driver to be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle because of sleep apnea, the condition has to be moderate to severe. A medical examiner is usually utilized to qualify and establish a driver’s medical fitness for service. Every state in the U.S. has the jurisdictional authority to suspend a CDL if a driver has sleep apnea.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2009, 75 percent of the fatalities in collisions involving large trucks were occupants of another vehicle, 10 percent were non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.), and 15 percent were occupants of a large truck.

As Portland truck accident lawyers, we have seen the serious injuries that large truck crashes cause occupants of small passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Our firm is dedicated to ensuring that reckless truck drivers are held responsible for the accidents and resulting injuries they cause. For information about what you can do after you are involved in a truck crash in Oregon, call Shulman DuBois, LLC today at 503-222-4411.