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New rule proposed to test truck drivers for sleep apnea

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is in the process of considering to move forward with a proposed rule designed to initiate a study of sleep apnea among commercial semi-truck drivers. Truck driver fatigue is a major problem on U.S. roadways, including in New Jersey.

Approximately 28 percent of commercial semi-truck drivers are afflicted with sleep apnea, according to a research study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with the FMCSA. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes interruptions in breathing while a person sleeps. The condition leaves many rig operators fatigued and inattentive while driving. This type of truck driver fatigue has led to serious accidents in the past.

Before the rule could be passed, it was subject to public comment. Some opponents argued that the costs associated with getting treatment would be too high since most insurances don't cover this condition. Additionally, they stated that the hours-of-service rules by the FMCSA should be slightly amended to allow truck drivers to rest without it cutting into their time while on duty. On the other hand, proponents maintain that airline pilots are required to pass testing for sleep apnea even though the plane can largely operate on its own.

An individual injured in a truck collision with a fatigued rig driver may be entitled to compensation for a variety of different types of losses. Compensation depends on the specific facts surrounding a collision. Compensable losses typically include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. A lawyer could talk to an individual about his or her options as well as assist that person with filing a claim against the at-fault party.

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