October 06, 2021
Arrive Alive! The Dangers of Sleep Apnea for Long Haul Truckers
Operating heavy machinery is a huge liability, but equally, driving some of the largest vehicles on the road can be extremely dangerous.
You can be responsible for, if not dictate, the level of safety that everyone else around you has on the road. Combine this with a lack of concentration, mental acuity, or the possibility of you falling asleep at the wheel – the risk of you harming others increases exponentially. Untreated sleep apnea can jeopardize this ability to remain awake and alert, and therefore your ability to be a safe driver. What’s even more troubling, is that there are approximately 3.6 million professional truck drivers in the US (2), and 28% are estimated to have mild to severe sleep apnea (1).
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
If you notice that you often feel drowsy while driving, have headaches, slow reaction times, or trouble focusing in general, you may have sleep apnea. Other symptoms include waking up abruptly during the night, feeling sweaty or warm, snoring or choking loudly in your sleep, and it can cause other symptoms such as these.
Why should I be concerned about sleep apnea and how it affects me as a long haul trucker?
Drivers with untreated sleep apnea are much more likely to get into a crash, leading to possible injuries and deaths, as well as increased expenses and liability issues for your associated trucking company. In fact, so many people are concerned about sleep apnea in long haul drivers that many new drivers have to be tested and screened for sleep apnea on commencement of their employment with certain companies (2). One study estimates that untreated sleep apnea in long haul drivers accounts for 13-31% of all trucking accidents in the US (3).
Additionally, truck drivers generally do not have many opportunities to stay active throughout the day, which could contribute to one of the main causes of sleep apnea – obesity. Sleep apnea not only puts you at risk for falling asleep at the wheel, but over time, the cumulative effects of not getting enough sleep can cause other serious health issues. Such issues can include; cognitive decline, diabetes, depression, heart disease and stroke.
What can I do to get treated and reduce my risk of crashing?
Ognomy offers virtual screening, diagnosis, and treatment for sleep apnea so that you can meet a doctor and get tested no matter where you are on the road. The technology used in CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines – which are the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment in professional drivers- has also greatly advanced over the years, and now lightweight and portable CPAP devices are available for drivers who are constantly on the move. We know that you’re busy, but your untreated sleep apnea could be putting everyone else on the road at risk.