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Truck drivers and sleep apnea

Truck drivers in South Carolina and throughout the country may be required to undergo screening for sleep apnea under a proposed new regulation, but the potential rule has come in for a great deal of criticism as well. The Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration received nearly 600 comments on the issue both pro and con.

One of the main concerns was the cost to drivers. While commenters did not dispute that fatigue was a concern, they also pointed out that the screening could cost between $2,500 and $4,000. The cost would likely not be paid for by insurance and would come out of drivers' pockets. Some commenters said that a better solution would be to adjust current regulations to allow drivers to nap during their on-duty time. However, others pointed out that airline pilots undergo similar screenings and are not required to be as attentive at their job as truck drivers are. One person who commented had lost her father when a truck driver fell asleep and hit his car.

According to a study from the University of Pennsylvania, around 28 percent of commercial truck drivers have sleep apnea. However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that since it had not been identified as a major cause of crashes, the screenings should not be required.

Big rig accidents that are caused by fatigued truck drivers can cause catastrophic injuries to occupants of other vehicles. If it can be determined that the trucker or the trucking company was violating hours of service regulations, an attorney representing an injured victim could assist in seeking compensation for medical expenses and other losses through a personal injury lawsuit.

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