The Sleep Help Institute recently examined the increasing risk of tired truckers. Federal statistics suggest fatigue is responsible for 13 percent of all collisions involving large, commercial vehicles. However, such statistics likely drastically under-report the problem.
What is clear is that more than 85 percent of all trucking accidents are the result of driver error, and fatigue plays a critical role. Irregular work hours, lack of exercise, poor diet and health complications all contribute to the risks.
Role of Sleep Apnea in Connecticut Trucking Collisions
Sleep apnea has become a critical safety issue in the trucking industry. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that causes a person to repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping. The condition has been linked to daytime sleepiness. Common risk factors include obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise and irregular sleeping patterns.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently ruled against a trucker in Robert J. Parker v. Crete Carrier Corporation. Parker had argued mandatory sleep apnea screening violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Parker had sought reinstatement and back pay after being fired by Crete Carrier Corporation for refusing to be tested for sleep apnea. Crete is No. 22 on Commercial Carrier Journal's list of the top 250 freight carriers.
Despite years of study and recommendations by two internal committees, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has yet to mandate sleep apnea testing for truckers. FMCSA and the Federal Railroad Administration have announced joint plans to consider regulatory proposals, including mandatory testing for truckers who are significantly overweight.
But for now, testing is done at the discretion of the carrier.
The Eight Circuit found Crete's testing policy to be "legitimate and non-discriminatory." Crete instituted the policy in 2010. Crete's policy requires a sleep apnea screening for all drivers with a BMI over 35 (a person is considered obese with a body-mass index of 30 or higher).
Proving Liability after Connecticut Tractor-Trailer Accidents
The sleep apnea issue illustrates just how complex these cases can be. A Fairfield County truck accident attorney must identify liable parties. These include:
- Truck driver
- Freight owner
- Insurance carriers
While federal Hours-of-Service regulations aim to limit road time for commercial truckers, determining compliance is only this year moving to electronic data recorders, instead of written logbooks. One of the ways an attorney can help is by securing the HOS data before the trucking company has the opportunity to alter or destroy it.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact Vishno Law Firm and find out how we can help you.