Severely obese truck drivers with sleep apnea cause more wrecks

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2012 | Fatigued Driving, Truck Accidents |

What do you get when you mix sleep apnea with truck driving? You get more accidents from driving while fatigued, as Frances Childress reports for the Examiner. According to a study published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, severely obese truck drivers are likely to suffer from sleep apnea, a health condition consisting of abnormal pauses in breathing during the night, which disrupts sleep.

Someone with sleep apnea – and 28 percent of drivers with commercial driver’s licenses are said to have it, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – is likely to be fatigued while driving.

This, in turn, could lead to an accident.

Childress writes that the study’s findings could help support a sleep apnea testing requirement in applications for commercial driver’s licenses. Childress quotes one of the study’s co-authors: “The data stood up and shouted at us. We found really clear evidence that the highest-BMI drivers are at higher risk of having an accident.”

Truck drivers, however, are not likely to “self-identify” as being severely obese, and therefore seeking medical attention for possible sleep apnea. Unwillingness to self-identify as severely obese is not limited to just truck drivers – it affects the entire population – but because truck drivers pilot 80,000 pound 18-wheelers down the nation’s highways, it might make sense to require sleep apnea testing for those who want commercial driver’s licenses.

Source: Obese truck drivers cause more road accidents, experts look at sleep apnea