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Sleep apnea a factor in truck driver accidents

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear a case by a truck driver who alleged that one of his carriers impeded against his rights by forcing him to undergo sleep apnea tests is sending waves throughout the trucking industry. The decision may lead to more screening requirements in California to determine if drivers suffer from the condition.

The driver who filed the request was appealing a decision from a lower court that his carrier did not infringe on his rights by requiring a test for sleep apnea because he had a body mass index of 35 or more. The driver refused to take the test and was subsequently fired.

While there are many forms of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the most common type. Those with OSA will stop breathing for periods of time while sleeping. Truckers are in a particularly high-risk category because they could become sleepy while operating a truck.

A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of public health found that drivers with OSA who do not receive treatment have a five times higher rate of preventable crashes than other drivers who do not have the condition. The study also found that fatigued driving accounted for 20 percent of all large-truck accidents.

In situations where people have been injured in a collision with a large truck, a possible cause of the accident could be fatigued driving resulting from sleep apnea. Victims of such accidents may want to seek the guidance of an attorney who has experience in this area. Proving fault from sleep apnea can seem overwhelming, but an attorney may be able to simplify the process and gain a financial award that would protect the financial future of the injured party.

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