Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person suffers pauses in breathing while asleep. The pauses can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and can occur up to at least 30 times per hour. The result for an individual suffering from sleep apnea is a poor night’s sleep and excessive sleepiness the next day. Sleep apnea is typically a chronic condition.
While it is a relatively common disorder, when a commercial truck driver suffers from it, the consequences can be devastating if the driver were to fall asleep behind the wheel.
Overweight Truck Drivers Cited for Sleep Apnea Testing
So the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and the Medical Review Board, two government advisory boards, is working on a detailed proposal to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a sleep apnea screening test for commercial truck drivers. The two panels have already agreed that truck drivers with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher should be screened. The higher a person’s BMI, the more overweight he or she is. And sleep apnea is more likely to occur in overweight individuals.
According to Today’s Trucking, an industry publication, the proposal includes guidance on what to do if a commercial trucker fails the test. It would immediate disqualification of the driver for falling asleep while driving or having a fatigue-related crash.
Common Cause for Trucking Accidents is Tired Driver
Some in the trucking industry dispute the need for such testing. But along with other acts of negligence or inattentiveness, tired drivers are a common cause of catastrophic trucking accidents. If the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration accepts this recommendation, then one cause of tired drivers and the dangers they represent may be minimized.