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Sleep Deprivation and Trucks Make for a Deadly Combination

It should be no surprise that commercial truck drivers are more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation compared to other drivers.  Studies done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that sleep deprivation is a factor in as many as 13 percent of all large truck, semi-rig and 18-wheeler accidents.  In a high traffic area such as the Atlanta and North Georgia region, this can result in catastrophic, and often deadly, car accidents that result in serious person injury.

A commercial truck driver’s schedule usually involves long hours without many breaks. Drivers are often under great pressure to clock-in a certain number of hours on their logs, which requires them to drive for more and more hours without scheduling a rest break. This can be a grave mistake that can have deadly consequences because a sleep-deprived driver is much more likely to make the types of mistakes that result in accidents.  Couple this with an 80,000 pound vehicle like a tractor-trailer, and it’s no wonder that a sleep-deprived truck driver can be one of the most dangerous drivers on the road.

Unfortunately for truck drivers, delivery schedules can be tight and it’s often not possible for a truck driver to rest when he wants to. The secret to sound sleep for a truck driver, therefore, may be to sleep when he can, instead of when he wants. This not only compromises the safety of other drivers, but your own health as well.  If you are a big-rig driver, here are a few tips for drivers to get more rest on the job.

Know your own sleep pattern, and don’t pressure your body by forcing yourself to stay awake for a longer number of hours just to complete your shipment. If you know you are going to have to drive  a long stretch and may not have  but a few hours to sleep, get a couple of hours of rest before you begin driving so you are refreshed and able to cope with the challenges of driving long hours. Use the times when your cargo is being loaded or unloaded, or your break times at truck stops to help you catch a couple of winks.

Another problem that plagues truck drivers and contributes to bad sleep is sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that truck drivers, owing to their unhealthy lifestyles and tendency to gain weight are more prone to. It disturbs sleep, causing truck drivers to wake up often during sleep thereby reducing the quality of their sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, obstructive sleep arena is a great risk to truck drivers as well as the safety of the millions of motorists who share the road with these large vehicles every year.

CPAP therapy is often prescribed for truck drivers who suffer from sleep arena, but in too many cases, drivers fail to begin therapy, or discontinue use of the treatment within a couple of weeks. Trucking companies can play a big role here, by encouraging drivers to get and stick with their sleep apnea treatment.

A drowsy driver operating a large commercial truck that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds is a grave risk not just to his own safety, but also the safety of other motorists operating their vehicles on the highways with his truck.  This is why it is imperative that truck drivers and their employers take steps to reduce the risks to everyone on the roads.

If your loved one has been injured in an accident involving a large truck, semi rig or 18-wheeler,  speak to an Atlanta trucking accident attorney at the Katz Law Firm to ascertain your legal rights to  compensation. You may qualify for damages that include, but are not limited to, medical costs, lost income and pain and suffering.