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Sleep Deprivation Can Be A Killer For Truck Drivers


Sleep deprivation is a common cause of truck accidents in New Orleans and throughout the country. According to the US Department of Transportation up to 28% of truck drivers could be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep deprivation is one of the primary causes of accidents on American roads. According to statistics provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration or NHTSA as many as 100,000 accidents annually can be traced to drivers who doze off behind the wheel and as many as 1500 deaths and 40,000 injuries may be caused by drowsy drivers.

The Sleep Medicine Division of the Harvard School of Medicine have surmised in a study that nearly a quarter million or 250,000 people fall asleep while driving each day of the year. With regard to truck drivers as a separate group it was found that nearly half had actually drifted off while driving on a long-haul route. According to experts, driving while drowsy is similar to driving while intoxicated. A driver who has been awake for 17 or more hours could exhibit the same driving errors as a person who has a blood alcohol content level of 0.5 in some cases. Sleep deprived drivers often struggle with impaired judgment, decreased visual acuity and coordination issues.

The U.S. Department of Transportation along with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have stepped up regulations in response to growing concern for truck accidents caused by sleep deprived drivers. Stringent restrictions have been placed on truck drivers limiting the number of hours they are permitted to drive before taking a mandatory break which must last a specific amount of time. Commercial drivers should have their driving schedules and workloads standardized to maximize safety for everyone else on the road.

Truck drivers often continue driving even though they are tired because companies pressure them to meet deadlines and in some instances, even support them misrepresenting their schedules to allow for greater time on the road. According to another statistic in 98% of fatal semi-truck vs. passenger vehicle accidents, the person killed was in the passenger vehicle. Falling asleep at the wheel is deadly for anyone on the road but when applied to commercial truck driver operating an 80,000 pound vehicle it is generally catastrophic for anyone in the truck’s path.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, some of the warning signs of potential sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive snoring
  • Constant daytime sleepiness
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Concentration and memory issues
  • Choking or gasping while sleeping.

Sleep deprivation is a condition that can be recognized and treated. Sleep study centers across the country provide specialized testing to diagnose those who suffer from sleep deprivation. Under federal regulations truck drivers suffering from sleep deprivation would be disqualified from driving as it would interfere with their ability to operate that vehicle. If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident in New Orleans, then you should retain the services of a competent and experienced personal injury law firm such as Cosse Law Firm to safeguard your rights and get you the fair compensation you deserve.

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Dedicated personal injury lawyers at Haslam & Gallagher, LLP provide effective legal advocacy and personalized service to their clients.