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Plan to check for sleep apnea before truck accidents is canceled

The Texas roadways have trucks going back and forth on them all day, every day. These vehicles provide a key service by providing jobs and bringing products from one place to the other. Despite that, these vehicles also carry with them a certain amount of risk. Their size and speed can lead to serious injuries and fatalities for anyone who is unfortunate enough to be in a truck accident with them. Federal agencies are constantly seeking ways to make certain that operators are safe. One strategy the federal government had planned to check drivers for obstructive sleep apnea has been canceled.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and two of the agencies within, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), eliminated the plan that had been created under the previous presidential administration. Sleep apnea obstructs a person's breathing when they are sleeping. It can lead to truck driver fatigue during the day, a loss of concentration and other dangerous issues.

For close to a decade, there have been calls from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for truckers and railroad operators to be tested for sleep apnea. Over the past 17 years, the NTSB has investigated 10 highway and rail crashes with sleep apnea a potential cause in many. Sleep apnea was discovered as being a problem for operators after the fact. Treatment can be effective for sleep apnea and the NTSB is encouraging companies to test workers.

When there is a truck accident, the aftereffects can have a long-term influence on a person's life. There can be medical expenses, lost wages and injuries that are difficult if not impossible to recover from. With a fatality, the family left behind will face the lost companionship, financial concerns, emotional upheaval, and other practical worries. A legal filing is often the only way to recover compensation. If sleep apnea was a factor, it can be important to a case. Discussing the matter with a legal professional experienced in investigating truck accidents is the first step.

Source: Bloomberg.com, "Trump Administration Halts Federal Effort to Combat Truckers' Sleep Disorder," Alan Levin, Aug. 4, 2017

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