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Attempts to cut truck driver fatigue face legal challenge

For drivers on the roads in Georgia, accidents caused by truck driver fatigue can be a major highway safety concern. The large mass and size of 18-wheelers and semi-trucks mean that a trucking accident can easily cause severe injuries, major property damage and even death. One significant cause of fatigue in truck drivers is sleep apnea, a disorder that prevents sufferers from receiving a full night's sleep without treatment due to interrupted breathing.

Due to the danger of truck accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers, the federal government has taken steps to push for greater testing of truck drivers for sleep apnea. However, one such rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is being challenged in court by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a trucking industry group. The lawsuit claims that an FMCSA guidance on medical examinations for truck drivers including sleep apnea testing violates federal law. The statute, passed in 2013, requires the FMCSA to go through an established procedure before issuing any new rules on sleep apnea testing, including a public notice and comment period.

However, the FMCSA argues that its guidance on physical exams did not violate the law as it only restated guidance on sleep apnea testing that already existed at the time the law was passed. A panel of a federal appeals court agreed with the FMCSA in January 2018; however, the OOIDA is now seeking to have its case reheard before the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.

People who have been injured in trucking accidents caused by truck driver fatigue or other forms of negligent driving may suffer lifelong injuries and disabilities. A personal injury lawyer might work with accident victims to seek compensation for the harms done, including lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering.

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