You may be among many others who consciously or unconsciously experience some level of anxiety as you travel next to, behind or in front of an 18-wheeler. No one would blame you. After all, they are big, heavy and intimidating as they cast a shadow over your vehicle or fill up your rearview mirror. All you can do is hope that its driver is paying attention, is alert, and is taking his or her responsibilities to you and everyone else on the road seriously.
With all of the other potential sources of calamity that could occur, there’s a good chance you may not have known that sleep apnea is a problem for truck drivers. This condition could mean your life is in danger since a truck driver suffering from it could be beyond exhausted. In fact, truck drivers who allow their condition to go untreated increase the risk of a preventable crash by five times.
Do you know what sleep apnea is?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which an individual stops breathing numerous times during the night. This happens due to the relaxation of the airway to the point where it prevents airflow. When this happens, the person wakes up, although not completely, in order to restart breathing. Some people only stop breathing a few times a night, but others stop breathing every minute.
As you can imagine, a person suffering from sleep apnea will not get a good night’s sleep. Fatigue alone can diminish the ability to drive safely, but some truck drivers actually fall asleep for a few seconds as they drive. You may not think that’s a big deal, but a lot can happen in traffic in just a few seconds. He or she could also suffer from a host of other mental and physical conditions that make performing ordinary daily tasks, let alone driving, difficult and dangerous.
What happens if you encounter such a truck driver?
If the truck driver next to you suffers from untreated sleep apnea, you could suffer serious and life-threatening injuries in a collision. As you struggle to recover physically, mentally, emotionally and financially from your ordeal, you will most likely experience a great deal of stress and frustration.
One area where you should not have to deal with the frustration and stress is financially. You could pursue compensation to cover your monetary losses, but the problem is often knowing where to start. You could consult with an Illinois personal injury attorney who can review your situation, explain your rights to you and let you know what the best course of action would be moving forward.