Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is a dangerous medical condition. It can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure. But, new research is showing that OSA can also be a serious risk for more than just the one suffering with this health problem.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Transportation, between 13 and 31 percent of trucking accidents occur because of a fatigued driver. A common symptom of OSA. If these numbers aren’t enough, it’s most likely much higher. Fatigued drivers rarely want to admit they were driving in that condition.
How Common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that OSA is a condition that affects more than 25 million adults in the United States. 20 percent of this number being truck drivers. Fatigue caused by OSA dangerous if one is driving a large truck, but also if they are operating any vehicle.
Why Do So Many Truck Drivers Struggle with Sleep Apnea?
OSA is a tremendous problem for those within the trucking industry. But this isn’t because sleep apnea sufferers are more likely to take a job trucking! Instead, research is showing that the driving job itself and the stressful work conditions may play a part in the development of OSA.
The job requires many hours sitting alone in the driver’s seat. Tight deadlines that promote stress, poor nutrition options, and limited exercise. A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health showed that truck drivers were 69 percent more likely to suffer from obesity than those with a different occupation. They were also at a higher risk for smoking.
Obesity is a leading cause of OSA. Those who are overweight are four times more likely to develop the condition. It only makes sense that truck drivers would be at risk. Other studies went to report that obese truck drivers were up to 55 percent more likely to be in an accident within their first two years on the job.
New Measures to Protect Drivers
Since fatigue is such an overwhelming problem among drivers, some groups are looking at reforms. This will battle the problem by putting regulations in place. The DOT took notice of the cries for reforms.
They had a period where they heard comments about the impact that evaluating and treating commercial truck drivers for OSA would have on our nation. While trucking companies fight the new regulations, there is a chance that these safety measures could be put into action in the next few months.
There are some trucking companies that are taking action on their own and screening their drivers for OSA. But it is the exception, not the rule.
Were You Injured in a Trucking Accident?
It’s important to use caution when driving near and passing semi-trucks. The driver could be experiencing fatigue, especially if driving at night. Be sure when passing semi-trucks to keep a steady speed and try not to stay in their blind spot. Do not become distracted by your phone, passengers, or other distractions.
Each year, countless people get injured in a trucking accident. Whether OSA is to blame or not, an accident with a large truck can cause serious damage to the victim’s quality of life.
If you or someone you love has been injured because of a semi-truck accident, call attorney James Souza at (813)254-9205. He will help you discover your legal options.