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Sleep apnea tests for truckers could be ahead

More New York truck drivers might be subject to testing for sleep apnea based on an April 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision. A driver had been fired by his trucking company after he refused to take the test even though he provided a note from his doctor saying the test was not necessary. The company requested the test because his BMI was above 35, a risk factor for sleep apnea. The man had appealed a lower court decision that found his rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act were not violated. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, and this means that the decision stands.

With obstructive sleep apnea, a person's breathing stops during sleep. This causes a person to sleep poorly, and the resulting fatigue can make driving dangerous. A study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that drivers who had untreated OSA had five times as many preventable crashes as those who did not. Researchers also said that as many as 20 percent of large truck accidents happened because of drowsy driving.

However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that there is no connection between sleep apnea and truck accidents. Furthermore, the organization says that based on federal collision data, only a small percentage of deadly truck accidents are caused by fatigue.

Semi truck accidents can be devastating because of the sheer size and weight of big rigs. Occupants of smaller vehicles often sustain catastrophic injuries in such a crash. If it can be demonstrated that the crash was caused by truck driver fatigue, a personal injury attorney might help a victim seek compensation for medical bills and other losses through the filing of a lawsuit against the negligent truck driver and the trucking company itself.

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