Earlier this year, a commuter train crashed in New Jersey, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking at sleep apnea as a possible cause for the crash.1 The conductor had undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea (he has since been diagnosed) and NTSB officials believe fatigued driving caused the crash. There are three other train crashes that have happened in recent years that also involved conductors with untreated sleep apnea. Now, officials are taking steps to try to prevent future fatigued driving crashes.
Why Does Sleep Apnea Cause Fatigue?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that causes airways to restrict during sleep and the body is forced to wake up suddenly to regain breathing ability. This can happen 400 or more times a night in some cases, which means sufferers are experiencing severely disrupted sleep, leading to fatigue throughout the day.
Airline pilots already must undergo sleep apnea screening to ensure that the condition is being fully treated to prevent fatigue. However, federal regulations do not – as of yet – require the same for train conductors or commercial drivers. If these individuals are behind the controls or the wheel while fatigued, it can easily lead to dangerous train accidents and truck accident.
After the NTSB report, the NJ Transit system has put rules in place that no one with untreated sleep apnea may operate a train. However, there is no nationwide requirement. The NTSB and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have both expressed concern2 about the matter and have proposed requiring sleep apnea screening for all commercial or transit drivers.
Before this occurs, however, sleep apnea may be the culprit behind a truck accident. If a truck driver crashes into your car and you are injured, they may have been fatigued, especially if they do not remember the crash.
Discuss Your Situation with an Experienced Minnesota Truck Accident Attorney
Both train accident and truck accident cases can be complex, with many possible explanations for the crash. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help to investigate your accident so that you can hold the responsible party liable for your medical bills and other losses. Call McEwen & Kestner, PLLC today at 651-224-3833 for a free consultation.