Without trucks, driven by truck drivers, the goods we depend on in our daily lives cannot get from producers to the stores where we get them. But a lot of truck drivers are working longer and longer hours, and despite federal regulations governing rest, many drivers are hitting the road while impaired by a lack of sufficient sleep. One federal study that looked at a nine year period ending in 2013 found as many as one in five truck crashes were as a result of fatigued or drowsy drivers being behind the wheel of the big rig.
Even when drivers are given sufficient time to sleep, not all of them can get good and efficient sleep before they’re on the road again. Sleep apnea is a growing concern among industry monitor agencies that keep tabs on truck drivers. This is a condition where the breathing becomes obstructed while sleeping, which causes the body to rouse the sleeper to take a deep breath or otherwise clear whatever might be preventing regular breathing. When this occurs, the regular cycles of sleep are interrupted, and even with eight hours in bed the patient can still awake fatigued.
Medical review boards are lobbying for stricter regulation into fatigued drivers, and pointing to sleep apnea as one reason to tighten the laws. One study found that sleep apnea drivers with a CPAP machine had similar crash rates to drivers without sleep apnea. But drivers with sleep apnea who did not have a CPAP to improve their breathing while asleep were five times more likely to be involved in preventable crashes.
The most important machine to a truck driver with sleep apnea is a CPAP; stay awake behind the wheel #HealthStatus
- 1Did you know that commercial drivers are not screened for sleep apnea? The simple reason is because available data is still limited.
- 2In American Sleep Association’s recent study, they matched truck drivers with the same level of experience. Those with sleep apnea were five times more likely to crash.
- 3Although many believe that the National Transportation Safety Board should require complete sleep disorder screening in commercial drivers, it is not yet a law.