In recent years, the federal government and the trucking industry have struggled to find a solution to an emerging issue: truckers with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are causing accidents and getting injured simply because they are not sleeping well at night due to their health condition. As differing groups attempt to work together to find a solution to this serious problem, a new study has revealed just how important it may be for truckers and the trucking industry to put the issue of OSA truck drivers onto center stage.
Sleep Study Reveals How Dangerous Untreated OSA Can Be For Truckers
The study, a combined effort between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Morris, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, looked at the driving records of over 3,600 commercial truck drivers, about half of which have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
In the study, those with sleep apnea were given continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) devices that were electronically monitored for compliance. The rates of preventable serious truck crashes per 100,000 miles driven were compared across all of the study participants, including those without sleep apnea, those with treated sleep apnea, and those with untreated sleep apnea.
The results were shocking. Those who had untreated OSA were five times more likely to be involved in a serious, preventable truck accident. Those who had treated OSA or who did not have OSA had the same, much lower, crash rate.
“We were directly responding to the lack of data about sleep apnea directly related to commercial drivers,” Stefanos Kales, an author of the study, told The Huffington Post. “Regulating sleep apnea in commercial drivers has been surprisingly controversial, but we hope this data makes the risks clear.”
What The New OSA Study Means For The Trucking Industry
While it may at first appear that this study tell us what we already know (sleepy truck drivers cause more accidents), it answers a few key questions that have been raised over and over again in recent years related to whether or not there should be new regulations in place regarding OSA and commercial drivers. Specifically, we now know that drivers with treated OSA perform just as well as drivers without OSA as well as that drivers with untreated OSA have a much, much higher accident rate.
The next step is knowing how we should use the information to improve the health of commercial drivers, improve safety on our roads, and to improve the success of the trucking industry. It seems clear that the solution will involve a better plan for screening, diagnosing, and treating commercial drivers with sleep apnea.
Surgical Sleep Solutions: Partnering With Truckers
At Surgical Sleep Solutions, we have committed our careers to helping those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea reclaim their health and improve the overall quality of their lives. As part of our efforts to eliminate sleep apnea, we are enthusiastic about helping both truckers and trucking companies find effective, efficient solutions to the issue of sleep apnea harming drivers and causing collisions. To learn more about our efforts within the trucking industry, or if you are a trucker who would like to speak with a doctor, please call us at 855-560-7378 or fill out form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.