Sleep apnea in truck drivers could lead to accidents

Researchers have shown time and time again that truck driver fatigue can play a significant role in motor vehicle accidents. In fact, drowsy driving plays a role in 328,000 accidents each year, including many throughout Pennsylvania.

One common reason for this fatigue is a chronic disorder, known as obstructive sleep apnea. The United States Department of Transportation is addressing this condition, specifically in commercial truck drivers. The public is allowed to weigh in on the topic during the 90-day comment period before the issue is legislated.

In the United States, more than 20 percent of commercial truck drivers suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which prevents them from getting a good night’s rest and leads to excessive sleepiness during the day. A new study by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that drivers with untreated sleep apnea were five times more likely to get in a preventable accident than other drivers.

Study researchers looked at data from over 3,600 truck drivers from 2006 to 2010 and compared drivers with OSA to drivers without it. Some of the OSA drivers treated their condition with a pressurized-air device called an APAP. Others did not treat their condition at all.

The study showed that using these devices helped drivers sleep better during the night. These more restful nights caused fewer drowsy driving accidents.

Moreover, the study showed that those who did not treat their sleep apnea were the most likely to be involved in a truck accident. Those who treated regularly were on the same level as those who did not have sleep apnea.

The study shows that receiving regular treatment is critical to the prevention of truck accidents in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. But, if one finds themselves as a victim of a truck accident, it may be wise to consult with an experienced attorney.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Untreated Sleep Apnea Makes Truck Drivers 5 Times As Likely To Crash,” Krithika Varagur, March 23, 2016