Trucks are often seen on the roads in Worcester and throughout Massachusetts. With their prominent place in the landscape, it is easy to forget how dangerous these large vehicles can be. There is an inherent trust placed in the truck companies, the drivers and the federal government to make certain that these vehicles are operated safely. Part of that goes beyond simply adhering to the traffic laws and involves health issues of the drivers. When there is an accident, it is imperative to know if it was due to truck driver fatigue or a violation of federal trucking regulations.
One problem that can lead to danger is sleep apnea. A plan from the presidential administration of Barack Obama was to mandate that truck and train drivers be tested to see if they have sleep apnea. This proposal has been killed by President Donald J. Trump’s administration. Sleep apnea is dangerous because the breathing issue can interrupt sleep and lead to drowsiness during the daylight hours.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will not pursue this regulation. Yet, sleep apnea has been referenced as a cause of fatal truck accidents in the past. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that sleep apnea has been a cause in 10 rail and road accidents it investigated over the past 17 years. Had the regulation come into effect, all truck drivers and train operators would have been required to take the test to determine if they were suffering from sleep apnea. For its part, the FRA says that it believes current rules are sufficient to deal with the potential dangers of operators having sleep apnea.
The decision on the part of the Trump administration to stop this regulation is a concern for people who are on the road. If sleep apnea is a problem for a truck driver or a train operator, it can cause a crash with serious injuries and fatalities. Given the size of these vehicles and the speed at which they travel, a person who is involved in a truck accident can require hospitalization, surgical procedures, rehabilitation, long-term care and lost time at work. They can have permanent damage or even suffer fatal injuries. If a driver has sleep apnea, it can be the basis for a legal filing to be compensated. A lawyer can help with a case.
Source: thehill.com, “Feds killing Obama plan to require sleep apnea test for truck, train drivers,” John Bowden, Aug. 8, 2017