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Severely obese truck drivers with sleep apnea cause more wrecks

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

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