A recent study indicates that a third of professional truck drivers suffer from a form of sleep apnea. That spells serious trouble for all motorists.
Serious truck accidents can occur if a driver is seriously fatigued, and that’s what happens with sleep apnea. It’s a medical condition that causes the back of the throat to close up while one sleeps. It causes interrupted breathing and, thus, interrupted sleep. As a result, one who suffers from sleep apnea is frequently tired.
It’s a problem on Florida roads and everywhere else. One woman in another state lost her husband when their car was hit by a truck in a construction zone. The driver apparently became “distracted” and took his eyes off the road, according to KVUE. Their car was crushed and her husband died two days later of massive head injuries.
It was later determined that the truck driver had been diagnosed with sleep apnea some two months before the horrible wreck. The woman later sued the trucking company and started a nonprofit that’s aiming to spread sleep apnea awareness.
Someone with untreated sleep apnea is reportedly seven times more likely to get into a car wreck involving injuries than people who do not suffer from it. One expert at a sleeping disorder center calls it an “epidemic” disease.
Sleep apnea may not always make those who suffer from it fall asleep behind the wheel, but it may also slow reaction time, and that is a problem in itself. If more people sought treatment for sleep apnea, it’s quite likely there would be fewer truck and car accidents.
Source: KVUE, “Woman fights for sleep apnea awareness after husband’s death,” Morgan Chesky, Nov. 11, 2011