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How Sleep Apnea Affects Commercial Drivers

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With there being more information out there regarding the effects of sleep apnea on commercial drivers, there are some trucking companies and states that are taking action.

Consider the following regarding the prevalence of sleep apnea in licensed commercial drivers:

  • 17% of all drivers suffer from a mild case of sleep apnea
  • 5% suffer from a moderate case of sleep apnea
  • 4% suffer from severe sleep apnea

The fact is, commercial drivers and transportation risk managers are having to handle the issue of sleep apnea, which is a condition that can contribute to daytime drowsiness and are working to find ways to improve road safety.

According to a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, out of the 3.4 million licensed commercial drivers, at least 26% of them suffer from some degree of sleep apnea. There are numerous studies that have shown that sleep apnea can significantly impact overall driving performance by increasing fatigue, as well as the risk of an accident. Even though the trucking industry is well-aware of the issue of sleep apnea among licensed drivers, there is still quite a bit that needs to be discovered regarding how to diagnose, treat and monitor the condition according to experts.

Sleep apnea is a condition where the airway is constricted because of muscular relaxation while you sleep. This leads to interruptions in breathing that can last for several seconds at a time. In many cases, this condition is accompanied by loud snoring, which result in a sleep that is not restful.

Individuals who are at risk for developing sleep apnea are those who have a body mass index that is 30 or higher, as well as a neck circumference of 17 inches or more. Many people with these conditions suffer from other health issues related to obesity, as well, including heart problems and diabetes.

The bad news is that many people who suffer from this condition don't even realize they suffer from it. This is why the condition often results in daytime drowsiness and sleepiness, which can have significant effects on a person cognitive skills, motor skills and reflexes.

There are some initiatives in place to help diagnose and treat commercial drivers with sleep apnea right away, which can help to mitigate health care costs while reducing the potential of crashes while on the road. The fact is, with these initiatives in effect, a significant reduction in the severity and frequency of accidents related to daytime drowsiness has been recorded.

However, if you ever are on the road and experience an accident with a commercial driver, it is important to find an attorney who will investigate the situation to determine if sleep apnea played a role. If it did, there are several parties who can be held responsible for the injuries and damages you suffered.

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