Sleep apnea is a medical condition that prevents a patient from getting a full night of sleep. Sufferers who have the condition are woken up many times throughout the night because they stop breathing for very short bursts of time. Sleep apnea is a treatable condition but in a number of cases it has led to devastating truck accidents in Davie and in other communities. There are many ways that this medical condition can lead to traffic accidents in Davie and across Florida:
1) Sleep apnea causes fatigue, which slows reaction times and can lead to more driver mistakes. Studies have shown that fatigued drivers have the same slow reaction times as inebriated drivers. In addition, studies have shown that fatigued drivers are more likely to make mistakes, which can lead to an accident.
2) The fatigue caused by the condition can exacerbate road rage and irritability. It is well-known that road rage causes car accidents in Davie and across the country. Studies have shown that fatigued driving is likely to lead to road rage, because fatigued drivers are more likely to feel irritability and may have a harder time controlling their tempers.
3) Sleep apnea can cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel. In cases where sleep apnea is not treated and gets worse, drivers can eventually become so fatigued that they fall asleep at the wheel and drive off the road or into oncoming traffic.
4) Sleep apnea can be hard to detect, meaning that drivers may not notice that something is wrong until after an accident occurs. In many cases, sleep apnea has few symptoms, other than fatigue – and that is easy to blame on a heavy workload. Sufferers usually do not remember waking up many times during the night, and do not realize that anything is wrong. If truck drivers notice symptoms such as significant fatigue they do have an obligation to get the symptoms checked out. Similarly, motor carriers have a responsibility to make sure that their drivers are healthy and safe on the road. If carriers and drivers are negligent in this regard, they can be held liable in the event of an accident.
5) The condition can exacerbate other conditions and issues. If a driver has trouble focusing on the road, fatigued driving is even more likely to make them distracted. Fatigue and lack of proper sleep can also make a driver more susceptible to illnesses and medical problems, which can affect driving. For example, lack of proper sleep can exacerbate hypertension, which can lead to heart disease.
6) Truck drivers may be especially subject to sleep apnea. According to researchers, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the condition. Unfortunately, most truck drivers spend long hours sitting in their trucks and often eat on the go, sometimes meaning that healthy food choices are harder to find. This can make drivers more at risk for sleep apnea.
If you have been injured in a truck accident in South Florida that you believe was caused by someone’s negligence, contact the Flaxman Law Group. You can arrange a free, no obligation case consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.