Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes brief interruptions in breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea does not sound dangerous, but according to scientific research the disorder interferes with safe driving. Sleep apnea may be a significant cause of Missouri truck accidents.
The breathing interruptions caused by sleep apnea may occur as many as 400 times a night, lasting as long as 10 seconds each. These interruptions wreak havoc on a truck driver’s ability to function well by decreasing the quality of sleep. Symptoms of sleep apnea include falling asleep during inappropriate times, lack of concentration, daytime sleepiness, and memory impairment. Each of these symptoms is dangerous when a truck driver suffers from them behind the wheel of a massive tractor trailer.
Sleep apnea symptoms interfere with a truck driver’s ability to safely operate a large tractor trailer or semi-truck. According to a scientific study, untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of Missouri trucking accidents. Another study found that drivers with sleep apnea performed worse than people with blood alcohol concentrations higher than the legally allowed for the operation of a motor carrier. Despite these consequences, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that up to 28% of commercial driver’s license holders suffer from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea poses such a dangerous risk to highway safety that many states prohibit people with sleep apnea from driving a commercial motor vehicle in intrastate commerce. Sleep apnea does not disqualify a driver unless it is moderate to severe. The sleep apnea disqualification aims to decrease Missouri trucking accidents.
Motor carriers may decrease Missouri truck accidents caused by sleep apnea by creating schedules that do not impair the driver’s ability to sleep well. The prevalence of sleep apnea is dependent on the trucks driver’s duration of sleep. Sleeping six hours or less in a night increases the prevalence of sleep apnea. Motor carriers endanger drivers, passengers, and pedestrians when they encourage or force drivers to have unreasonable driving schedules. Unreasonable driving schedules make Missouri trucking accidents caused by sleep apnea more likely. By complying with Missouri motor carrier regulations concerning the hours of service, motor carriers can help keep roadways safe.