Sleep disorders are a significant health problem for truck drivers. Trucker injuries resulting from falling asleep at the wheel can be compensated by workers’ compensation, as shown in this recent article from the LexisNexis Legal Newsroom.
Former FMSCA administrator Anne Ferro put it this way in remarks she made at the 2010 Sleep Apnea and Trucking Conference in Baltimore.
“I count fatigue among those high risk behaviors and sleep apnea is a condition that contributes to fatigue. This is a highly sensitive subject which is why this meeting is so important. The challenge here is to focus on sleep apnea as a serious medical condition and identify affordable screening and treatments that work in the truck driving environment.
“In many cases, truck drivers experience poor health because of the challenges associated with their job and lifestyle.
“According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy for a driver is less than 61 years – is 16 years younger than the average American. That is simply not acceptable.
“From our own estimates, almost three out of 10 truck drivers currently suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. And we know from our research that drivers with severe sleep apnea are known to be at a much, much greater risk of being involved in a severe crash.
“Fatigue is estimated to be an associated factor in 13 percent of all truck crashes annually and 28 percent of single vehicle truck crashes, based on the Large Truck Crash Causation Study.”
As has been written on the firm’s blog before, “sleep is essential for health and well-being. And not getting enough sleep is a compensable condition.”
In a guest blog post a few years ago, respected lawyer Jon Gelman of New Jersey shared information from the National Sleep Foundation and CDC. In addition to falling asleep when a person was planning to stay awake, people who don’t sleep enough are at “increased risk of motor vehicle accidents; increase in body mass index – a greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation; increased risk of diabetes and heart problems; increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse; and decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information.”
Please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer with questions about specifics in yours or a loved one’s case. In addition, please work to get both the quantity and quality of sleep that is needed to be safe and healthy.