The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency that is charged with regulating the trucking industry, has passed many regulations in the past that have improved safety on the roads by ensuring that truckers are getting sufficient rest each night. Research has consistently shown that truck drivers who spend too many hours on the road without rest are much more likely to be involved in truck accidents. It appears likely that the FMCSA will continue to pass regulations that would ensure that truckers get sufficient rest, as a recent bill was signed into law by President Obama that forces the agency to address the problem of sleep apnea among truck drivers.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects many people. It is a chronic disorder in which there are shallow breaths or one or more pauses in breathing during sleep. As a result, the sufferer often moves out of deep sleep into light sleep. Thus, those afflicted get poor quality sleep and often are tired all day.
The FMCSA is concerned that truck drivers with sleep apnea are not getting sufficient rest, even though they are off the road for the amount required under the current regulations. To combat the problem, the agency initially sought to issue guidelines to the Department of Transportation medical examiners, which perform trucker physicals, to inform them of what to look out for when certifying that drivers are sufficiently fit to continue driving.
Instead of issuing guidelines, the new law orders the FMCSA to create rules that would formalize testing procedures on truck drivers. In addition, the FMCSA may pass regulations that specify what medical treatment drivers with sleep apnea should receive before they can return to driving.
The FMCSA’s continuing efforts to curb the problem of fatigued truck drivers would be a boon to roadway safety. Each year, truck accidents by negligent drivers cause thousands of injuries, especially to those driving smaller vehicles. Because of these accidents, many drivers are forced to miss work as they undergo long rehabilitation periods and incur high medical bills. Fortunately, Louisiana law allows drivers who are injured by negligent truck drivers to recover these costs in a civil lawsuit.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a trucking accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident, advise you of your right to compensation and work to hold the responsible party accountable.