The public hears about traffic accidents all of the time. Media tend to focus on drunk driving accidents, or more recently, distracted driving accidents. But there is another serious cause of crashes in New York and throughout the country that needs the focus of safety advocates and federal officials.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has come up with a proposal that seeks to prevent driver fatigue among commercial truck drivers. Past truck accidents have been the results of driver negligence due to fatigue. One way to prevent fatigue on the roads, according to traffic safety advocates, is to address the health matter of sleep apnea.Sleep apnea is most common among the overweight. Studies have shown that a significant population of truck drivers suffers from the sleep disorder. This is a troubling fact. Sleep apnea damages the quality of a person’s sleep, often leaving him fatigued the next day. When a person’s job is to drive a huge tractor trailer, sleep apnea becomes more than just a health concern. It’s a traffic safety crisis.The FMCSA proposes the following:
- Medical examiners identify the body mass index of truck drivers
- Drivers with a BMI of 35 or above must be tested for sleep apnea
- Drivers responsible for truck accidents possibly caused by driver fatigue must be tested for sleep apnea
- Those drivers cannot continue to drive until they have been evaluated or are treating their sleep disorder
Currently, there are essentially no federal guidelines regarding sleep apnea in the commercial trucking industry. Not only are many truckers overweight and, therefore, at risk of suffering from sleep apnea, but they also work grueling hours. The combination is enough to put fear in any driver who has to share the roads with commercial trucks.Source: Truckinginfo.com, “FMCSA Proposes Guidance for Sleep Apnea,” Oliver B. Patton, April 20, 2012