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Nearly Half of All Truckers, Other Commercial Drivers May Be at Risk for Sleep Apnea

Undefeated 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer | Nearly 49% of Commercial Drivers at Risk for Sleep Apnea

New research suggests nearly half of all commercial motor vehicle drivers – including those who operate 18-wheelers and other big rigs – could be at risk for obstructive sleep apnea, a medical condition that increases the likelihood a driver will fall asleep at the wheel.

Study Look for “Apnea Potential” Among 20,000 Commercial Drivers

The study involving 20,000 commercial drivers was conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and presented last week at a Transportation Research Board committee meeting. All subjects were screened for obstructive sleep apnea using the so-called STOP-Bang method, an eight-item screening tool that incorporates subjective symptoms and objective risk analysis factors, including snoring, tiredness, observed apnea, hypertension, body mass index, age, neck circumference, and gender.

While prior studies have suggested between 7.2% and 30% of commercial drivers suffer from diagnosed or undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, this latest study found that 9,382 of the drivers screened, or nearly 49%, had apnea “potential,” while 9,639 did not have apnea.

“The goal of the new study is really to get an accurate estimate of potential OSA,” said presenter Jeffrey Hickman, a VTTI researcher who participated in the study. “We’re not trying to diagnose people. We’re just screening them.”

Long-Haul Truckers May Be More Prone to Obstructive Sleep Apnea

People with obstructive sleep apnea can stop breathing for as long as 10 minutes while they sleep, making it impossible for these individuals to achieve a good night’s rest. If allowed to go untreated, the disorder can contribute to a range of other serious health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and memory lapses.

Commercial drivers – especially long-haul truckers and bus drivers – face several health challenges that can make them more vulnerable to obstructive sleep apnea and its effects, including long hours on the road, little exercise, and a lack of access to healthy food that may contribute to obesity.

“Beyond the health consequences, there are also safety consequences that are well established in the literature that those diagnosed with OSA that is not treated increases your crash risk because you’re not getting sleep,” Hickman continued. “If you’re not getting sleep, you’re tired when you’re driving, and so that results in a lot of inattention that increases your crash risk.”

Sleep Apnea Linked to 500 Highway or Rail Crashes

Previous research found commercial truckers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea had a preventable crash rate five-times higher than non-sufferers.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has linked the disorder to at least 500 highway or rail crashes that killed 50 people and injured more than 370 others, including a fatal collision involving an 18-wheeler and tour bus near Palm Springs, California that left 13 dead in 2016. Obstructive sleep apnea also contributed to two New York-area commuter train crashes since 2016, including one that left a person dead.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not require commercial drivers to undergo medical screening for obstructive sleep apnea. While the Obama Administration did finalize such a rule in 2016, the regulations were abandoned shortly after President Trump took office. So far, it’s not known if the incoming Biden administration will revive the proposal.

Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers Winning Record-Breaking Verdicts and Settlements in Fatigue-Related Crashes

Our 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers have won Record-Breaking Verdicts and Settlements for hundreds of people throughout the United States in connection with fatigue-related bus and truck crashes.

Most recently, for example,  we negotiated a $6 million settlement on behalf of several Greyhound Bus passengers who were seriously injured when the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Greyhound initially claimed that a “sudden medical” event had caused the driver to lose consciousness. But after our attorneys won the first-ever court-ordered sleep study of a commercial driver in Texas, they were able to prove that he actually suffered from undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea and likely fell asleep at the wheel.

Our record settlement remains the largest involving driver fatigue in Greyhound’s corporate history and was featured by CBS Morning News and other major media outlets throughout the United States.

Contact Our Undefeated 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or CLICK HERE

Our Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers have recovered billions for thousands of people injured or tragically killed because of a fatigued, reckless, or negligent commercial driver and consistently win Record-Breaking Verdicts and Settlements on their behalf.

Please call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.

All consultations are free and, since we work exclusively on a contingency-fee-basis, you’ll owe nothing unless we win your case.