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Truckers with Sleep Apnea at Increased Risk of Crash

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Shalini Shah1 year ago

Researchers have found that commercial truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea are four to five times more likely to be involved in an accident in which they are at fault.

Risk for Truck Drivers with Sleep Apnea

U.S commercial truck drivers undergo a screening process every two years to determine their fitness, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not require this sleep apnea screening. However, according to new information, commercial drivers who do not treat their sleep apnea are four to five times more likely to be involved in a crash that is their fault than those who don’t have sleep apnea or have it and have treated it.

Previous research has mostly focused on passenger car drivers. In the trucking industry, some believe the situation could be different for professional truck drivers. Through data gathered by the North American trucking firm Schneider, researchers were able to compare 1,613 drivers with obstructive sleep apnea to 2,016 drivers unlikely to have the condition.

Both of these groups had similar experience levels and length of employment. Additionally, the employer required the drivers with sleep apnea to wear an auto-adjusting positive airway pressure (APAP) device while they slept. This device recorded when and how often it was used on an internal memory chip.

Reuters reports that of those with sleep apnea, 682 abided by the employer treatment program, 571 used the APAP devices sometimes and partially adhered to the treatment, and 360 did not use the device.

The drivers with sleep apnea who did not use the APAP device had accident rates about five times higher than those drivers without sleep apnea. Drivers with sleep apnea had 0.070 preventable crashes per 100,000 mile driven compared those without sleep apnea with 0.014 per 100,000 miles driven.

Important Information About Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person has one or more pauses in the breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. This condition is usually chronic and result of poor quality of sleep, making a person tired during the day.

Sleep apnea disrupts the quantity and quality of sleep. Here are the following signs and symptoms related to sleep apnea:

  • impair a person’s attention
  • vigilance
  • performance
  • reaction time
  • irritability/mood swings

Untreated sleep apnea can cause many other side affect on one’s health like:

  • high blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease
  • memory problems
  • weight gain
  • impotence
  • headaches


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