Sleep Apnea And The Trucking Industry

A significant public health hazard that causes thousands of deaths and even more injuries each year, driver fatigue and sleepiness has become epidemic. Studies have confirmed that obesity among commercial truck drivers is a major cause of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and that if there was mandated OSA screenings then the risk of truck crashes can be reduced.

OSA is a medical condition characterized by sleep-disordered breathing which results in sleep attacks, daytime sleepiness, disruptive nighttime sleep and psychomotor deficits. There is a significant risk of motor vehicle accidents, and it is most common in the ranks of truck drivers. Approximately 28% or 2.4 to 3.9 million licensed commercial drivers in the United States thought to have OSA. Frequently OSA remains undiagnosed by many primary care physicians. This is troublesome because OSA increases the risks of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. This is on top of the fact that truckers with sleep apnea are 7 times more likely to be involved in a motor

It is very concerning that drivers with sleep apnea frequently underreport or minimize symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and snoring. The truck driving lifestyle is frequently nothing but limited exercise, high fat foods and irregular schedules. These are the factors which puts most drivers in a high-risk category. The truck driving lifestyle is not the cause of the disease but it contributes greatly to it.

If properly diagnosed and treated, OSA is a very manageable disease that should not harm a driver’s career.