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Truck drivers may soon be screened for sleep apnea

Commercial truck drivers on Wisconsin highways may be fatigued if they have not had sufficient sleep. If a driver has obstructive sleep apnea, getting a good night's rest can be especially difficult. OSA is a respiratory condition that causes people to have interrupted breathing during sleeping hours and fatigue during waking hours.

According to a University of Pennsylvania study that was sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 28 percent of commercial truck drivers have OSA. Due to safety concerns related to truck drivers with sleep apnea, the FMCSA is considering a rule that may require commercial truck drivers to be tested for sleep apnea. Before adopting it, the FMCSA opened it up for public commentary.

Many people who are against testing truck drivers for OSA pointed out the high cost of the test. One man said that a sleep apnea test usually costs between $2,500 and $4,000, and insurance does not always cover it. People who were in favor of testing truck drivers for OSA said that the safety benefits outweigh the financial costs. According to one commentator, airline pilots are screened for sleep apnea even though their planes are on auto-pilot most of the time, and truck drivers must remain attentive every second that they are driving.

Big rig accidents can result in serious injuries to occupants of smaller and lighter vehicles. If it can be proven that the accident was caused by a truck driver who was sleep-deprived and who failed to pull off the highway to take some rest, a personal injury lawsuit filed with the assistance of an attorney could result in compensation being awarded to an injured victim.

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