Have you ever started to nod off while driving? It's pretty scary. According to several studies, driving while drowsy is just as likely to cause an accident as driving drunk; yet thousands of drivers who are operating fully loaded semi-trucks are nodding off behind the wheel.
Driver fatigue is one of the common contributing factors to West Palm Beach 18-wheeler accidents. Truck drivers may be exhausted even when they are getting enough hours of sleep. The problem is a medical condition called sleep apnea.
According to a Harvard University study, nearly one-third of American truck drivers have some form of sleep apnea. The researchers believe that if truck drivers were screened for sleep apnea, many Florida trucking accidents could be prevented.
Almost twelve million American adults, mostly men, suffer from sleep apnea. Those with sleep apnea stop breathing or take smaller breaths while sleeping. This results in sleep disruptions and poor sleep quality. The victim wakes up feeling tired and may even drift into microsleep during the day. Microsleep refers to periods where parts of the brain shut down for one to 30 seconds. The victim may not be aware that these episodes are occurring; yet even a few seconds of inattention can result in a deadly Palm Beach truck accident.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
- Waking up tired
- Feeling very tired during the day even after seven or more hours of rest
- Loud snoring
- Abrupt awakenings followed by shortness of breath
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep
Many truck drivers believe that they will lose their jobs if they are diagnosed with sleep apnea, but sleep apnea is treatable. Mild forms of sleep apnea may be treated with diet and exercise. When sleep apnea is more severe, treatment includes a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machine or CPAP machine. The device costs about $300 and is often covered by insurance. It works by supplying the lungs with a steady stream of air at an even pressure so the airway is kept open and breathing is not interrupted. The machines can make an immediate difference.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will soon require all truck drivers to be screened for sleep apnea. In the meantime, many Florida truck drivers will continue to drive drowsy.
If you or a loved one was injured in a Florida trucking accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. West Palm Beach 18-wheeler injury attorney David Glatthorn can investigate your accident and determine if drowsy driving or other reckless behavior contributed to your injuries. To learn more, request a free copy of The Florida Accident Workbook: Tools, Tips & Tactics to Resolve Your Injury Claim, or contact David Glatthorn at 866-413-5525.