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Could tests for sleep disorders reduce truck driver fatigue?

Whether you are traveling during the day or during the night, most motorists in Pennsylvania will likely share the road with large commercial trucks at some point. These massive vehicles, although important for intrastate and interstate commerce, pose several risks on minor and major roadways, which is primarily due to their size. Another concern arises from the long hours truck drivers work and the long distances drivers travel. Although federal trucking regulations regarding hours of service and breaks seek to address these concerns, there still remains the risk of driver fatigue and drowsy driving for those who suffer from sleep disorders.

Could tests and treatment plans for truck drivers reduce accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers? Following consultation and study-based data, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration proposed rule making that would be used to address drowsy driving. Based on a report that estimated more than 72,000 crashes reported to authorities are the direct result of driver fatigue, rule makers seek to understand whether a driver's sleepiness could be related to a disease or disorder.

Therefore, a fatigue management program was suggested in order to determine if a truck driver suffers from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. The concern with this management program is that if the industry must conduct mandatory tests that will diagnose drivers with sleep apnea, it will also place liability and responsibility on them to manage the driver's hour of service, breaks and ensures that he or she is using proper approaches to manage their sleep disorder.

Because it is everyone's responsibility to be awake behind the wheel -- for their safety and the safety of others -- it is important to understand ways to address problems related to driver fatigue. While there currently is no regulation regarding the mandatory testing of truck drivers for sleep disorders, such measures could improve the safety of truck drivers and other motorists. However, this will not prevent all truck accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers.

If you are a victim of a truck crash, it is important to understand that there may be possible recourses available to you. If a negligent truck driver caused the collision, it is possible to pursue compensation for damages and losses related to the incident.

Source: Business Insurance, "Proposed trucker rule targets driver fatigue," Donna Mahoney, April 24, 2016

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