Washington, D.C. – Drowsy or fatigued driving poses significant risks to all motorists, but imagine if a driver is in command of a large and heavy tractor trailer. New regulations have been placed on the trucking industry to make certain truck drivers get enough sleep while they are on duty. Now federal agencies along with the trucking industry will work one developing regulations for truckers who suffer from sleep apnea.

Close to 70 million Americans suffer from a variety of sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Institute. Most people who have sleep apnea don’t even realize they have this condition.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is condition in which a person’s breathing is interrupted one or more times while they are sleeping. A sleeper’s will take shallow breaths or their breathing will completely stop but usually resumes. Some people suffering from sleep apnea can stop breathing 30 times or more in throughout their sleeping cycle. As a result, sufferers have poor sleep which causes them to be drowsy or fatigue throughout the day, sometimes when they are behind the wheel of a car or a large commercial vehicle.

Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents, therefore the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has long expressed the desire develop regulations for drivers who suffer from sleep apnea and require mandatory testing for all truck drivers. The truck industry was concerned that these new regulations would be developed without their input,

For instance, industry leaders worry that and some drivers would be unfairly targeted because they are overweight or suffer from diabetes. Doctors say that people who are overweight are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea.
Trucking industry leaders such as the American Trucking Association (ATA) and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) were concerned that drivers would be subjected to unnecessary medical procedures and broad regulations would cost the industry close to $1 billion.

A law signed by President Obama in October would prevent the FMCSA from developing sleep apnea regulations without a period of rulemaking.

“We were very pleased with the bipartisan approach to this bill – in a very partisan atmosphere – and are delighted the president quickly signed it into law. It puts the Dept. of Transportation on the proper path, and ATA is optimistic that any rulemaking on this issue will be collaborative and informed,” Bill Graves of the American Trucking Association, said.

With cooperation, the FMCSA will work closely with the trucking industry to develop sleep apnea standards that will help prevent drivers and other motorists from being put in harm’s way by a fatigued truck driver.

Still, regulations cannot prevent all drowsy driving accidents. Individuals who have been hurt by a fatigued truck driver can seek compensation from a negligent driver. These injury victims can turn to a Hartford accident attorney Melocowsky & Melocowsky for assistance in seeking an injury claim.