Sleep-related truck accidents are a well-known problem in Illinois and throughout the United States. Some studies suggest undiagnosed sleep apnea could be one of the causes behind the increasing number of fatal truck accidents. Millions of Americans live with sleep apnea, and up to 20 percent of truck drivers have undiagnosed or untreated mild to severe sleep apnea.
Truck drivers are more likely than most to suffer from sleep apnea due to the high number overweight or obese drivers. Sleep apnea causes your breathing to be suspended dozens of times per hour as you sleep. This causes your waking life to suffer, as everyone needs at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to function properly. This problem is worse for truck drivers who work long hours and don’t have a regular sleep schedule.
Untreated sleep apnea causes daytime fatigue and makes a truck driver five times more likely to cause an accident according to a study conducted by Harvard. This drowsy driving is sometimes considered worse than drunk driving. Tired driving is suspected to be the cause of 1 in 6 fatal auto accidents.
Drowsiness or fatigue causes a decrease in:
- Reaction time.
- Information processing.
- Your ability to make decisions.
These mental and physical faculties are vital when operating a vehicle weighing 80,000 pounds. Truck drivers don’t always realize when they’re tired and don’t remember falling asleep. Additionally, tired driving causes your body to micro-sleep for a few seconds at a time, and your head repetitively drops during these periods. Truck accidents caused by sleep-deprived drivers commonly occur in construction zones or areas with heavy traffic when the driver fails to recognize and react to the changing speeds and merging lanes.
Truck drivers are often staying awake on borrowed time. Their rigid delivery and pickup schedules cause them to skip mandatory breaks and drive through the night. This lack of sleep adds up. Coffee and caffeinated beverages help for a few hours, but the only way to repay this debt is with sleep.
If you’re driving a motor vehicle, be wary of large semi-trucks or tractor-trailers around you. Watch for these warning signs:
- Drifting across lanes or off the road
- Delayed reaction times for changing road conditions
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, please call our experienced accident attorney in Chicago today at (800) LAW-0300. The Sklare Law Group serves clients in Chicago and surrounding Northern Illinois areas.