I was recently interviewed on Sirius Radio’s trucking channel, "The Road Dog Channel" by Mark Willis, host of the program, "The Loading Dock." We had an hour-long interesting conversation about the how common sleep apnea is amongst truckers. One study found that 28% of commercial truck drivers had sleep apnea. More than 1/3 were found to have moderate or severe sleep apnea. We know that untreated sleep apnea can lead to weight gain, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
Another study stated that over 5000 deaths occur every year where a commercial truck was involved. However, one caller did mention the caveat is that a majority of these accidents were due to the passenger cars’ fault. Regardless, drowsiness during driving is a killer, no matter who’s doing the driving.
There seems to be much more awareness in the trucking community about the dangers of untreated sleep apnea, not only for the safety of the public, but also for the health of the commercial driver. In conjunction with various sleep-related non-profit organizations, there are many screening programs and trucking company directed efforts at early detection.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed more stringent rules regarding mandatory screening and criteria for return to work once the sleep condition was treated. As we all get more and more overweight, I guarantee that this is become a bigger issue than what it is now.