Posted On: March 29, 2009 by Steven J. Malman

Study Says Number of Truck Accidents Might Go Down If Truckers Were Tested for Sleep Apnea

A Cambridge Health Alliance study is reporting that the number of US truck crashes could be reduced if truck drivers were tested for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is because drowsiness and driver fatigue are two common causes of truck accidents, which, according to Science Daily, are considered a major public health hazard. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 101,000 truck crashes injuries and 4,808 fatalities in 2007.

Sleep Apnea makes it hard for people to get a good night’s rest, which can cause them to feel very sleepy in the daytime. While most people know that they are prone to exhaustion or falling asleep, they are not necessarily aware that this condition can also be deadly. Sleep apnea increases the chances that a driver will become involved in a motor vehicle crash by up to seven-fold.

The Divided Attention Driving Test found that people who have sleep apnea might sometimes exhibit a driving performance similar to someone who is driving with a blood alcohol content that is above the legal limit. This can impair a truck driver’s ability to safely operate his or her vehicle and is especially frightening if one considers that many truck drivers operate large vehicles weighing up to 80,000 pounds.

The consequences for the trucker, as well as those in the vicinity, can be deadly during a motor vehicle crash. The Cambridge Health Alliance says there are anywhere from 2.4 million - 3.9 million US licensed commercial drivers with OSA. Another research study, sponsored by the American Transportation Research Institute of American Trucking Associations and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), reports that the prevalence of sleep apnea among truck drivers seemed to increase with obesity and age.

Surprisingly, sleep apnea is not uncommon. Some 20 million people are affected by this sleeping disorder, which can also lead to strokes, heart disease, muscle pain, depression, hypertension, excessive sleepiness, headaches, and fibromyalgia. The Cambridge Health Alliance study says obesity-driven testing strategies and OSA screenings could help identify the commercial truckers who have OSA.

The study can be found in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Obesity Linked To Dangerous Sleep Apnea In Truck Drivers, Science Daily, March 12, 2009

New Study Links Obesity to Dangerous Sleep Apnea in Truck Drivers, 24-7 Press Release, March 27, 2009

Related Web Resources:
A Study of Prevalence of Sleep Apnea Among Commercial Truck Drivers

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Please contact Chicago truck collision lawyer Steve Malman to request your free consultation.

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