As much as 35% of truckers in Colorado and the rest of the U.S. suffer from a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Apnea means “without breath,” and sleep apnea results in the individual having his or her upper airway blocked during sleep for 5 to 10 seconds at a time. In obstructive sleep apnea, the most common among truckers, the mouth palate and throat muscles relax and collapse to block the airway.
OSA prevents truckers from getting either deep sleep or REM sleep. The first is essential for repairing the physical aspect of fatigue, and the second for repairing mental fatigue. Drowsy driving is the result of undiagnosed or untreated OSA, then. By engaging in this, truckers put themselves and others in danger.
By recognizing the symptoms, truckers may seek medical attention and so be treated for OSA. For instance, they may be told that they snore loudly, or they may gasp for air periodically while sleeping. They may wake up with headaches, be irritable all day and have trouble focusing on and remembering things.
For mild OSA, all that may be required is a mouthguard called a mandibular advancement device. Individuals may also use a CPAP machine, which delivers air pressure through a mask that goes over the nose or mouth. For serious cases, surgery may be necessary.
In the event of a serious accident, one will want to find out who was primarily at fault and to what degree. If a trucker was drowsy or drunk or negligent in some other way, then the other side may have a good chance of recovering damages from the trucking company. However, gathering evidence against the defendant might go more smoothly if one has an attorney. The attorney may bring in investigators to prove that the defendant has sleep apnea, for instance.