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Sleep apnea screening proposed for truck drivers

Truck drivers in Mississippi might be required to undergo a screening for sleep apnea under a proposed regulation that will affect drivers nationwide, but many are speaking out against the proposal as well. The government received several hundred public comments about the regulation, and many objected on the grounds that the drivers would be required to pay for the screening themselves at a cost of more than $2,500.

Others pointed out that the cost was a small price to pay in terms of lives saved. One woman, whose father was killed in an accident with a semi truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel, said such complaints were short-sighted. The co-founder of the group Road Safe America pointed out that airline pilots have to undergo such screening even though, unlike truck drivers, they do not need to be as alert for the duration of the journey.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sponsored a study that found sleep apnea was a problem for more than one quarter of all drivers. However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that the organization had failed to demonstrate that sleep apnea was a major cause of accidents. Others suggested that drivers should be allowed to nap while on duty.

Truck accidents can be devastating to occupants of other vehicles. Injured victims could face months of recovery time during which they are unable to work as their medical bills pile up. When such an accident is caused by a truck driver who dozed off at the wheel, a personal injury attorney could help the victim seek compensation for those and other losses.

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