Truck drivers must combat fatigue on a daily basis. Traveling hundreds of miles is monotonous and challenges them to remain alert. When they also do not receive good sleep, they may have serious issues behind the wheel.
Getting good sleep could prove difficult for many truck drivers, especially if they suffer from untreated sleep apnea. If you are like most other drivers here in New York and elsewhere, you already feel nervous enough traveling the same stretch of road with such a large vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded. You can only hope that its driver is paying attention, remaining alert and capable of reacting quickly to an emergency.
What do sleep apnea sufferers go through?
You may have heard about sleep apnea but aren’t sure what it really is. People who suffer from this condition experience the following:
- Their airways relax and collapse during sleep.
- They stop breathing when this happens.
- They come partially awake in order to start breathing again.
- They experience this cycle anywhere from five times per hour to once each minute.
As you can imagine, this prevents an individual from getting a good night’s sleep, which means he or she doesn’t feel fully rested upon waking. Sleep apnea can also cause mental and physical issues that further impede the ability to function, let alone drive safely. Like anyone else with this condition, a truck driver could actually fall asleep for a few seconds at a time while driving, which could lead to serious or fatal crashes.
The sad part is that the treatment for this condition is not that complex. Sufferers use a machine that provides continuous airway pressure in order to avoid the relaxation and collapse that occurs in sleep apnea. This allows the person using it to breathe, stay asleep and wake up rested.
Untreated sleep apnea leads to drowsy driving
One of the primary side effects of sleep apnea is fatigue. The last thing you want is a truck driver in the lane next to you, behind you or in front of you, driving while excessively drowsy. If you encounter a truck whose driver has untreated sleep apnea, you could end up in a collision that causes you serious injuries. You could also lose a loved one to these same circumstances.
The aftermath of such a crash could change your life and your family’s lives forever. While nothing can undo the damage done, you may exercise your rights under New York law to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim, as applicable, against the driver and his or her employer as well. Any monetary damages received could help you recover from the financial losses associated with this type of tragedy.