A new study has found that over 40 percent of truck drivers in Australia have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder where a person stops breathing throughout the night. Sleep apnea can lead to sleepiness and fatigue during the day due to the nightly disturbance in sleep.
While this study is a report on truck drivers in Australia, many safety advocates in the U.S. say that sleep apnea is also prevalent among commercial truck drivers in the U.S. Sleep apnea can be a significant safety issue among truck drivers in the U.S. as tired or sleepy drivers have a higher risk of being in a truck accident.
Most recently, a survey by the National Public Radio found that one-third of truck drivers in the U.S. had sleep apnea. Fatigue and sleepiness can affect all drivers, but when a professional truck driver has a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, they may be unsafe to drive a commercial truck.
Fatigue caused by sleep apnea can cause truck drivers to drift off, have difficulty concentrating on the road and even fall asleep behind the wheel. This can be very dangerous and cause an accident that is more likely to be fatal due to the large size of the vehicle they are operating.
Sleep apnea has become more recognized in the medical community as well as the by the government. In fact, to address the serious safety issues truck drivers with sleep apnea may pose, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that they are looking into developing a screening process for sleep apnea for commercial truck drivers in the U.S.
Source: Huffington Post, “Sleep Apnea Affects More Than 40 Percent of Truck Drivers, Australian Study Shows,” Amanda Chan, April 3, 2013