Based on a recent study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it has been found that nearly 30% of commercial truck drivers suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. Despite its prevalence in the trucking industry, sleep apnea poses significant safety risks as it impairs drivers' focus on the road and increases the likelihood of accidents.
In light of these risks, drivers must understand this condition and know how to respond to its symptoms. Please look at the following guidance to learn more about sleep apnea, its impact on driving abilities, and the steps to take after receiving a diagnosis.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by short pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses typically last at least 10 seconds and can occur up to 400 times per night. If left untreated, sleep apnea can have life-threatening consequences.
Common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Frequent and loud snoring
- Nighttime urination
- Morning nausea and headaches
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Increased irritability or sadness
- Difficulties with memory and concentration
While sleep apnea can affect anyone, certain factors increase the risk of developing this condition, such as a family history of sleep apnea, being over 40 years old, smoking, alcohol consumption, having a small upper airway, and being overweight.
Impact of Sleep Apnea on Driving
Untreated sleep apnea significantly affects your ability to stay awake, alert, and focused during the day, impairing your driving performance. Several studies have also shown an elevated risk of fatigue-related crashes among individuals with untreated sleep apnea. Ignoring the signs of sleep apnea not only endangers your safety but also jeopardizes the safety of other road users.
What to Do if You Have Sleep Apnea: If you experience sleep apnea symptoms, it is crucial to contact your doctor promptly. Your doctor may refer you to a sleep center for further testing. Upon receiving a confirmed diagnosis, various treatment options may be recommended, with the most common being using a breathing assistance device during sleep and, if applicable, lifestyle changes like physical exercises and dietary restrictions to promote weight loss.
Taking sleep apnea seriously and seeking appropriate treatment is essential for ensuring your well-being and maintaining safe driving practices. Contact Trucking Insurance Services LLC today for further information.
This blog is intended for informational and educational use only. It is not exhaustive and should not be construed as legal advice. Please contact your insurance professional for further information.