Much has been made of sleep apnea in trucking and the accidents that have resulted when drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel.
So how big of a problem is sleep apnea in trucking, really? With federal regulators considering mandatory sleep apnea requirements right now, we must ask the questions below.
Is sleep apnea among truck drivers as big an issue as it’s made out to be? Or is it being blown out of proportion by media coverage?
The Huffington Post recently took on the issue in an incendiary article written by Michael McAuliffe, the blog’s congressional reporter. In the story, McAuliffe puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of Congress and the trucking lobby. Serious accidents involving truck drivers are the upshot of a “broader trend,” McAuliffe writes.
“It is part of a broader trend of declining safety on the roads after decades of progress. A trend that the United States Congress aided and abetted. They loosened safety rules even as both truck drivers and trucks push to their limits.”
The debate over this issue heightened as sleep apnea received more attention.
The latest round of congressional wrangling started with a fight over snoring, or, more specifically, the obstructive sleep apnea that causes it, McAuliffe writes… The airways of people who suffer from apnea close repeatedly while they sleep, interrupting their breathing dozens of times an hour. They often don’t notice the interruptions, but it leaves them exhausted and prone to doze off during the day.
The Huffington Post story also says the risk of sleep apnea rises dramatically with weight gain, and that research links sleep deprivation to heightened crash risks.
Opinions on sleep apnea among truck drivers differ depending on on the driver. However, one thing is certain. The debate over this issue rages for a long time to come.
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