Truck Drivers With Sleep Disorders Can Be Dangerous


Anyone who has taken a road trip knows that driving for long periods of time can be exhausting. Even though you are sedentary in the driver’s seat, staying focused on the often monotonous road can cause fatigue. Commercial truck drivers travel hundreds of miles as part of their daily job, making fatigue a major concern in the industry. When a truck driver loses focus or falls asleep behind the wheel, truck accidents involving serious injuries and fatalities often result.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that 13 percent of commercial drivers involved in accidents were fatigued at the time. The actual percentage is likely higher, because of underreporting or non-discovery of fatigue.

To combat fatigued driving, the FMCSA has set strict hours-of-service limits to prevent drivers from staying on the road too long and becoming fatigued. However, long hours are not the only factor that causes fatigue in truck drivers. Other factors including stress, depression, thyroid disorders, and nutritional deficiencies can also cause fatigue. One major concern in the trucking industry is sleep disorders that cause fatigue during the day.

Sleep Disorders May Lead to Daytime Fatigue

Three different sleep disorders commonly cause fatigue. When undiagnosed and/or untreated, these sleep disorders may lead to fatigued driving.

  • Sleep apneaThis is a highly common sleep disorder that affects millions of people in the U.S.. People with sleep apnea experience interruptions in breathing throughout the night, which causes the brain to wake up repeatedly in order to start respiration again. While most people do not even realize they are waking up, apnea prevents them from reaching deeper stages of sleep. The poor quality of sleep leads to feelings of tiredness and fatigue during the day.
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS)This neurological condition causes a person to feel uncomfortable feelings in their legs – as well as the urge to move their legs – often as they are trying to fall asleep or during sleep. These sensations can keep many RLS sufferers from falling asleep or staying asleep, which can cause fatigue on a regular basis.
  • Narcolepsy – This autoimmune neurological condition prevents the brain from properly regulating sleep and wakefulness cycles. This not only often leads to excessive tiredness but may also cause sudden sleep “attacks” during which a person falls directly into the REM stage of sleep at inappropriate times during waking hours—for a few seconds or even minutes at a time.

If a truck driver knows he or she has a sleep disorder and fails to seek treatment, that driver may be held liable if their fatigue causes injuries to others on the road.

Consult With a New Orleans Truck Accident Law Firm for Free Today

At the law firm of Egenberg, APLC in New Orleans, we know that truck accident cases can be complicated and that the cause of the crash is not always immediately apparent. We can help determine whether a truck driver involved in an accident may have been fatigued due to a sleep disorder. We fight for our clients’ rights to recover compensation for serious injuries including those suffered in trucking accidents. Please schedule your free consultation by contacting us online or calling 504-229-5700 today.

Truck Accidents in Bad Weather

Accidents involving semi-trailer trucks can happen in any weather conditions. However, adverse weather like rain, snow, and fog increase the chances of these extremely dangerous crashes. When a truck collides with a smaller vehicle, motorists often suffer extremely serious injuries. Knowing the increased risks of truck accidents in bad weather may help you avoid these collisions and potentially devastating injuries.

Driving Too Fast for Conditions

Truck drivers are expected to obey Louisiana state traffic laws just like any other driver, including speed limits. However, they must also comply with regulations set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which limits speeds more than posted signs.

Specifically, the FMCSA regulations prohibit a commercial driver from traveling at speeds “too fast for conditions.” “Conditions” refers to either road or weather conditions. The FMCSA gives the following examples of conditions that may require a truck driver to slow down:

  • Rain
  • Ice
  • Snow
  • Fog or reduced visibility
  • Curves
  • Uneven roads
  • Road work zones
  • Gravel roads
  • Intersections
  • Congested traffic

In those situations, a truck driver cannot simply obey the posted speed limit to comply with the law. For example, the FMCSA generally recommends that drivers reduce their normal speed by one-third on wet roads. Drivers must use their judgment and slow down as conditions require.

Unfortunately, many truck drivers do not recognize how bad weather affects driving a semi-truck. Although these trucks are extremely heavy, especially when loaded, the extra weight does not automatically provide better traction. Truck drivers may also believe they handle their vehicles better than other drivers in adverse conditions, because of their training and experience as professional drivers. For these reasons, commercial drivers often drive too fast for conditions, putting other drivers at risk.

What to Do After a Crash

If a truck driver driving too fast for weather conditions crashes into your car, you will likely be shaken up or even in shock. It can be difficult to know exactly what to do next. First, you should always ensure that you and any other accident victims receive emergency medical attention.

Call 911 and follow the instructions of emergency and medical personnel if they wish to transport you in an ambulance to the hospital. Even if you do not need an ambulance, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible to make sure any injuries are properly diagnosed and treated. Some serious injuries may not appear right away after an accident. When you can, you should contact an attorney who knows how to handle complex truck accident cases.

Consult With a New Orleans Truck Accident Attorney for Free Today

At the law office of Egenberg, APLC, we believe that negligent or reckless truck drivers who cause accidents should be held liable for all of the medical bills and other losses of their accident victims. We know that negotiating with insurance companies and bringing claims against trucking companies can be intimidating. We have the skills and resources to do so on your behalf. After a truck accident, please do not wait to contact our office online or call us at 504-229-5700 to discuss your accident for free.