Drowsy Driving Concerns Highlighted by Texas Trucking Accident
Anyone who drives drowsy can be a danger on the road, but those with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, must be particularly cautious.
June 20, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A Texas woman's world was forever changed when a semi truck slammed into the back of the Hyundai she was riding in with her husband of 45 years. The couple was stopped in traffic at the edge of a construction zone when a semi-tractor trailer barreled into their vehicle at over 50 miles per hour. The husband survived the crash, but died two days later from massive head wounds.
This Texas woman was left wondering what could have caused a truck to careen into a line of stopped cars. In a search for answers, she retained a Texas truck accident lawyer and filed a lawsuit. In the course of the suit, a medical report emerged that made the puzzle pieces fall into place: just two months before the accident, the truck driver had been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea (an ongoing disruption in sleep due to pauses in breathing or shallow breaths). The semi truck driver's sleep apnea had gone untreated before the crash.
The truck driver's employer eventually admitted its driver's sleep apnea likely caused the wreck, and has since put in place a screening program to identify and treat sleep apnea in its drivers. While this renewed focus on healthy sleep habits for drivers came too late for the couple, it is a stark reminder of an all too common roadway danger.
Fatigued Drivers a Major Roadway Threat
Based on police accident reporting, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that approximately 1,550 fatalities every year result from driver drowsiness. These figures are based on official reporting and underestimate the problem, as reporting policies are inconsistent. Additionally no scientific test can determine "sleepiness" at the scene of an accident.
Falling asleep behind the wheel is not the only risk posed by fatigued driving: drivers who are tired react more slowly. One study found that being awake for 24 hours produced driver impairment equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 (0.08 is the legal limit to drive).
Anyone who drives drowsy can be a danger on the road, but those with sleep disorders must be particularly cautious. Left untreated, sleep apnea makes drivers seven times more likely to be in a crash involving injuries.
Driving a commercial truck is a sedentary activity, which can contribute to health problems that cause sleep apnea and other sleep disorders: a study published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported that 86 percent of the nation's truck drivers are overweight or obese, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that almost a third of commercial vehicle drivers suffer from sleep apnea. For such at risk groups, effective screening and treatment for sleep disorders is especially important to prevent drowsy driving motor vehicle accidents.
Legal Actions Spur Change, Compensate Victims
Filing a court action can lead to real world safety improvements that help prevent future accidents. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drowsy driving crash, contact a personal injury attorney today to get help securing the compensation you deserve and improving roadway safety.
Article provided by The Law Firm of Alton C. Todd
Visit us at www.altontodd.com
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