Truck drivers operate vehicles that are extremely dangerous and can cause catastrophic damage when involved an accident. The commercial motor vehicles or CMVs that truck drivers operate weigh more than 10,000 pounds and can destroy almost any passenger-carrying vehicle.
The government has put into place multiple federal regulations that are designed to reduce the risk of truck collisions. One of the rules states that all truckers must be physically fit to handle the pressures of professional truck driving. To get a commercial driver’s license or CDL, drivers must show that they are free from or at least have taken steps to mitigate stamina reducing illnesses like sleep apnea. According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the sleep cycle. It is unsafe for drivers to be afflicted with this condition because it can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, which as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states is one of the main causes of accidents for truckers. Sleep apnea causes the sufferer to repeatedly partially awaken during sleep, which makes normal, restorative sleep impossible. People with sleep apnea often experience severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability. It may also cause a person to have difficulty concentrating and staying awake at work, while watching TV or even when driving.
Despite the obvious dangers of having tractor-trailer drivers with sleep apnea, there are still accidents between trucks and passenger vehicles that are caused by a fatigued driver with sleep apnea. All cases are different and we cannot guarantee the same result in a similar case, but Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers achieved a $1.5 million settlement in December of 2014 after a truck, driven by a man who allegedly suffered from sleep apnea, hit a van in Hampton Roads, killing the van driver. Drivers with debilitating conditions like sleep apnea sometimes make it past the medical screening by lying to the medical examiner. In this case the driver hid the symptoms of sleep apnea like drowsiness and snoring from the doctor so that he could get his CDL. Drivers are willing to lie about their health because their livelihoods are at stake. However, their recklessness puts themselves and everyone else in danger and their company can be held liable.
Transporting goods is a highly competitive industry. To meet the demand, trucking companies often impose unrealistic schedules on drivers, forcing them to make an impossible delivery window to receive a paycheck. Regulators understand the dangers of driving while tired and the pressure from supervisors to drive more and more hours. Lack of sleep has been shown to disrupt attention and cause people to fall asleep while driving. A driver who is tired poses a huge safety risk for everyone else on the road. Recently we detailed the federal hours of service regulations truckers work under.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by a fatigued driver, contact the seasoned team at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers for help. When it really counts, count on Cooper Hurley.