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Trucking industry struggles to deal with sleep apnea

Commercial truck accidents have become increasingly common in Florida and other U.S. states over the last few years. According to safety advocates, one of the possible causes of the problem could be sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that repeatedly interrupts a person's breathing while they are asleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that the condition can lead to a number of health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure and cognitive problems. However, one of its biggest side effects is daytime sleepiness, which can lead to drowsy driving. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 17% and 28% of America's 1.87 million nonfarm commercial drivers are thought to have at least a mild form of disorder, meaning there are potentially thousands of sleepy truck drivers traveling on U.S. roads each day.

The Obama administration made plans to require mandatory sleep apnea screening for truck drivers, but the Trump administration scrapped the new regulations. That means that it's up to the doctors who perform health exams for commercial driving licenses, trucking companies or the truck drivers themselves to request screenings. According to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, mandatory sleep apnea screenings and treatment would cost the industry between $740 million and $12.8 billion. Many companies are uninterested in picking up the tab, so they pass the responsibility on to the drivers.

Truck accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers injure thousands of people every year. Individuals harmed in these accidents have the right to pursue compensation in civil court. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, an injured victim might receive a settlement that covers monetary losses, including medical bills, lost wages and property damage, and non-monetary losses, such as pain and suffering. Victims may learn more about their legal rights by contacting a legal firm.

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