There is no doubt that truck drivers play an enormous role in the country’s economy. They haul the goods that millions of businesses and hundreds of millions of people rely on. Because much of their lives are spent on America’s interstates and highways, they also play a tremendous part in the overall safety of the road. A threat to truck drivers is a threat to all, and sleep apnea is a rising threat in one of America’s most important industries.
Truck Drivers Are More Susceptible to Sleep Apnea Than Most
Long haul drivers may spend up to eleven hours within a 24 hour period behind the wheel of a big rig. The nature of the job requires little physical activity and also leaves little time for regular exercise; furthermore, constantly eating on the go promotes bad food choices. These factors combined create the perfect perfect conditions for a culture of obesity, which is a leading cause of sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea’s Impact on the Trucking Industry
While sleep apnea testing is no longer a federal requirement for truck drivers, many companies still require their drivers to be tested. The studies tell a sobering story: of the 1.7 million long haul drivers on the road, around 28% suffer from sleep apnea, which causes daytime sleepiness and affects cognition and motor skills. Drowsy driving is an infamous danger on America’s highways. It is estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that sleepy motorists were the cause of over 72,000 accidents in 2013.
What’s Being Done to Combat This Issue?
An increased need for awareness, diagnoses and treatment of this illness has also lead to a greater demand for people who can identify it in truck drivers. Institutes like the National Academy of DOT Medical Examiners, also known as NADME, provide training for dot medical certification as well as instruction in the identification and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea.
With Proper Testing and Treatmemt, Everyone Wins
A diagnosis of sleep apnea doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a driver’s career. With treatment, a mild sufferer can get back behind the wheel and thrive as long as they obey their health care providers instructions. Most importantly, the roads will be safer for all.