Texas Truck Accident Highlights Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Posted By The Carlson Law Firm || 26-Oct-2011

Commercial vehicle crashes have many root causes. Many people may believe speeding violations, defective equipment and driver training may be common causes; however, most may not realize that driver fatigue is a real issue. For people like Wanda Lindsay, truck driver fatigue can be life altering.

On May 7, 2010, Wanda and her husband, John Lindsay, were taking a sunny drive. Upon running into traffic congestion, the couple found themselves stopped on Interstate 30 near Texarkana. Soon thereafter, an 18-wheeler, barrelling at 70 miles per hour, crashed into the rear of their car. Wanda Lindsay was rushed to the hospital, but her husband died from his injuries. She filed a lawsuit against the driver and his company. The trucker had been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and he may have been asleep at the wheel when he caused the fatal crash.

As a way of addressing the problem that caused her husband’s death, Wanda Lindsay created the John Lindsay Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to improve public safety, encourage the commercial carrier industry to establish programs that monitor and treat their employee’s sleep apnea problems, and to increase public awareness about the problem of sleep apnea in the commercial carrier industry. The non-profit held its inaugural educational event this past summer entitled “Sleep Apnea Kills.”

In addition to banquets and presentations, the foundation is promoting a sleep therapy program for commercial vehicle drivers. The program, which incorporates testing, diagnosis, and delivery of sleep-therapy equipment, aims to treat truckers with sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a chronic disorder that disrupts sleep and leads to daytime sleepiness. This sleep disorder can increase risks for diabetes, stroke, heart disease, obesity and hypertension.

Some carriers, such as Wisconsin-based Schneider National, have adopted comparable practices. The company, which has been applauded by the National Sleep Foundation, provides a rigorous and effective apnea testing, treating and monitoring program for company truckers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported 74,000 injuries and 3,380 deaths associated with truck-related traffic crashes in 2009. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that driver fatigue is linked to 31 to 41 percent of crashes of commercial vehicles.

While the federal government has established rules designed to combat impaired, drowsy and fatigued driving by truckers, the problem still remains. Public awareness and action is necessary.

Source: Statesman.com, New Braunfels widow fights sleep apnea in transportation, Helen Anders, 26 Spetember 2011

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