If you are out there driving a big rig, you know you constantly have to be alert to guide your truck down the highways safely. An accident can have catastrophic consequences, and could result in not only physical harm, but damage to your rig. A new study puts owner operators with insurance in on alert to the danger of sleep apnea.
Many drivers think, “So I snore, what’s the big deal?” Unfortunately snoring could be a symptom of a much bigger problem. It’s one of the symptoms of sleep apnea, a condition where a person’s airway collapses during sleep, causing breathing to stop, for several seconds to several minutes. These episodes can occur up to 30 times each hour.
In addition to snoring, symptoms include waking up with a dry throat, waking up gasping for air, experiencing headaches in the morning, and daytime drowsiness. Most people diagnosed with this condition have a bed partner who witnesses the episodes first-hand. Treatment typically involves the use of a CPAP (Constant Positive Airway Pressure) machine to keep airways open while sleeping.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota recently studied over 1600 truck drivers who were diagnosed with sleep apnea. Results show that the rate of serious, preventable crashes was 5 times higher among truck drivers with sleep apnea who failed to adhere to CPAP therapy, compared with matched controls. In contrast, the crash rate of drivers with sleep apnea who were fully or partially adherent with treatment was statistically similar to controls.
The study implies that untreated sleep apnea prevents drivers from getting the deep sleep required to help them stay awake and alert while driving. This drowsy driving results in a higher rate of accidents which could easily be prevented.
If you are an owner operator who shows signs of sleep apnea, it can be easily diagnosed and treated. Making your health a priority can also ensure you and those around you on the highway make it to your destination safely.
For more information about staying safe while driving a truck, contact us.