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Groups push for mandatory sleep apnea screening for truckers

Truckers in Colorado, as elsewhere, sometimes have a hard time sleeping. Some individuals, in fact, suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in one's breathing that last at least 10 seconds. If left untreated, it causes truckers to suffer from high blood pressure, memory lapses and drowsiness behind the wheel.

Sleep apnea screening became mandatory under the Obama administration, though the Trump administration has overturned this rule. However, many experts encourage companies to mandate screening as long as they can afford it. Besides cost, there are concerns over the time that truckers must spend away from work to be screened and treated. One patient support group, Truckers for a Cause, has helped minimize this downtime.

Truckers for a Cause was launched by a trucker who was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2002 and then underwent continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, the standard treatment for sleep apnea. He formed his patient support group so that truckers could experience the same positive results he experienced with the therapy.

There are 1.87 million nonfarming commercial drivers in the US, and 17% to 28% of them have at least a mild form of obstructive sleep apnea. Truckers who don't get their sleep apnea treated are five times likelier to crash than those who do.

It is conceivable that an auto accident case could involve a trucker with untreated obstructive sleep apnea. Victims may have a hard time proving just how the trucker or the trucking company was responsible, though, so it may be in their best interest to hire a lawyer for assistance with filing a claim. An attorney may hire investigators to gather evidence of negligence before engaging in settlement negotiations. Ultimately, a lawyer may need to take the case to court.

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