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Trucker sleep apnea: Snore of a topic? We don't think so

Drowsy drivers dozing at the wheel is a problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says sleepiness contributes to thousands of crashes every year. When the vehicle happens to be a big rig, the outcome is often a fatal truck accident.

Victims of such crashes in Texas have a right to seek compensation when such negligence is in evidence. Whether it's for an injury or the loss of a loved one, learning all the options available is important. At legal firms where the first consultation is free there is nothing to lose in seeking counsel. 

The medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea means a person could be suffering from sleep deprivation and therefore be subject to being sleepy at the wheel. But this is also a condition that many people dismiss. For example, how many of you reading this right now know someone who has a well-deserved reputation for being a loud snorer?

That is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea. If the snorer tends to pause at times and then chokes or gasps, that's an even clearer marker for sleep apnea. But snoring is so common that it is handled as more of a joke than a serious health issue.

How serious is it? Medical experts say it can increase your risk of heart disease and heart attack. If the apnea sufferer happens to be a truck driver, it also boosts the risk of serious crashes.

Research reported in the journal Sleep reveals that truckers who have sleep apnea but don't follow required treatment regimens have a five times greater risk of being in crashes. Authors note that some trucking companies enforce mandated treatment for sleep apnea to reduce accident risks, but drivers who don't want to treatment can just quit and find work with companies without such a policy. Current regulations don't require them to inform employers of an apnea diagnosis.

The Washington Post reports there is an effort underway to try to require all truck, bus and railroad workers to be tested for sleep apnea, but it is only a proposal at this point.

Source: The Washington Post, "Government considers sleep apnea testing for bus drivers, truckers, rail workers," Ashley Halsey III, March 8, 2016 

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