Nearly Half of Commercial Vehicle Drivers at Risk for Sleep Apnea, Study Says

Nearly Half of Commercial Vehicle Drivers at Risk for Sleep Apnea, Study Says

Nearly half of commercial vehicle drivers may be at risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a chronic medical condition that can cause sleepiness behind the wheel, according to a new study.

The study of 20,000 drivers, presented in January by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, showed that 9,382 of the drivers, 47%, had sleep apnea “potential.” Prior studies had estimated that anywhere between 7 and 30% of commercial drivers may have OSA.

The study does not mean that 47% of the drivers have OSA; rather, they are at risk for it. “The goal of the new study is really to get an accurate estimate of potential OSA,” according to VTTI researcher Jeffrey Hickman. “We’re not trying to diagnose people. We’re just screening them.”

What Is Sleep Apnea and Why Is It So Dangerous for Truckers?

A person with obstructive sleep apnea has a hard time getting a good night’s rest because OSA causes them to stop breathing for up to 10 minutes while asleep. Afterward, the individual will awaken abruptly, possibly while gasping or choking.

Sleep is key to the health and performance of anyone driving an 18-wheeler, bus or another commercial vehicle. When a driver isn’t getting proper sleep, he or she can easily become fatigued during hours-long trips, which increases the risk of a wreck. In fact, truck driver fatigue is one of the nation’s leading causes of truck crashes.

Unfortunately, the lifestyle of trucking can make truckers more vulnerable to developing sleep apnea. Truckers often don’t get enough exercise and aren’t able to eat a balanced diet, which leads to obesity; obesity increases the risk of developing OSA.

Are Drivers Required to Have a Sleep Apnea Screening?

According to research from a few years ago, commercial truck drivers suffering from OSA were involved in preventable wrecks five times as often as drivers who didn’t have OSA.

In 2016, the Obama administration finalized a rule that would have required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to test commercial drivers for OSA. However, the rule was withdrawn at the beginning of the Trump presidency. It remains to be seen whether the rule may be revived in the Biden administration.

Our Dallas Attorneys Represent People Injured in Truck Wrecks

The Dallas truck accident lawyers at Ted B. Lyon & Associates have recovered millions of dollars for clients who were seriously injured in wrecks on East Texas roads. Whether you were involved in a crash with an 18-wheeler, bus, delivery truck, or any other type of commercial vehicle, our attorneys can evaluate the situation and take steps to protect your rights.

To get started, we suggest that you arrange a free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers. You can do so by calling 866-503-4864 or by sending us a message. We look forward to seeing how we can help you.