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How Common Are Sleep Disorders in Truckers?

Truck driver yawning while driving

Trucking Regulations May Contribute to Sleep Disorders

With new trucking regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), all property-carrying drivers must have 10 hours of consecutive off-duty time after an 11-hour driving limit. However, drivers may split their off-duty times into a minimum of two and seven-hour breaks, also known as the sleeper berth provision.

How Much Sleep Is Needed?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended sleep times for adults range between seven and nine hours, depending on your age. When truck drivers have these blocks of time off-duty, the expectation is that they will be using it to get the adequate amount of sleep needed to perform their job. However, this is not always the case.

Sleep Disorders in Truck Drivers

A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that unspecified sleep disorders are found in about 20-28.6% of truck drivers, while insomnia is found in 27.5% and sleep apnea in 25.8-51%. These disorders were noted with the majority of drivers reporting that they get six or fewer hours of sleep each night.

Why Sleep Matters

Although it has been proven time and time again that sleep is a key component in preventing diseases like obesity, substance abuse, and cardiovascular disease, getting enough rest hours during the day has also been shown to reduce accidents. The National Sleep Foundation study went further to prove that drivers who have a sleep disorder, on average, are at double the risk of a motor vehicle accident and nearly three times the risk of near-miss accidents than other drivers. These rates also increase with driver age and time spent on the clock.

It’s not only this study that highlights a cause for concern. Research cited by the FMCSA has reinforced the fact that driver fatigue slows reaction times and reduces one’s ability to promptly assess situations, noting, “When driving an 80,000-pound commercial motor vehicle at highway speeds, any delay in reacting to a potentially dangerous situation can be deadly."

Truckers Need More Rest Time

While federal regulations regarding breaks include adequate time to allow for a consistent sleep schedule, trucking companies still put immense pressure on their drivers to meet delivery deadlines. This can often cause violations of the safety rules, even if drivers are required to track hours of service. When this happens, fatigued drivers are not only putting their own health and safety in danger but also that of the other drivers on the roads.

North Carolina Truck Accident Attorneys

Truck crashes caused by driver fatigue are negligent in nature, and you should never have to worry that another driver will cause life-altering injuries to you and your loved ones. If you are involved in a truck crash with a drowsy driver, Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP can help. Call (866) 380-2281 to schedule a consultation and discuss your representation options today.