Sleep apnea is a disorder that periodically causes people to stop breathing during sleep. There are three types with obstructive sleep apnea being the most common among truckers in Kentucky and the rest of the U.S. In fact, some 35% of truckers suffer from sleep apnea.
OSA can be especially harmful because of the way it interrupts a person’s sleep. Ultimately, it prevents the person from getting deep sleep, which repairs physical fatigue, and REM sleep, which repairs mental fatigue and is linked to the healthy exercise of memory. As a result, a person may sleep for, say, 10 hours and yet never be fully rested. They may be plagued by drowsiness all day: a dangerous condition for truckers and for anyone driving around them.
Drowsy truckers are, in fact, 250% more likely to crash than well-rested drivers. It’s crucial, then, that they recognize the symptoms of OSA and seek out treatment. These symptoms include loud snoring, headaches in the morning, poor memory and trouble concentrating.
Treatment may be as simple as forcing oneself to become a side sleeper. Specially designed mouthguards exist for mild OSA, and moderate or severe OSA can be treated with a CPAP machine. As a last resort, one could have a “sleep apnea pacemaker” surgically implanted in the chest. Weight loss may help.
When truck wrecks are caused by drowsy truckers, then victims may file personal injury claims. It may be hard to prove drowsiness, though, unless there was a clear hours-of-service violation that could be said to contribute to drowsiness. This is why victims may want a lawyer to work on their case. The victims may leave all settlement negotiations to their lawyer and take the case to court if the other side denies payment or only offers a low-ball settlement.