The next time you are driving on a highway and you approach a truck — or it approaches your vehicle — remember this:
A study found that almost one-third of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. That means they may fall asleep at the wheel and cause a horrific accident at any time!
Morgan G. Adams, a Chattanooga, TN, lawyer and past chair of the AAJ Trucking Litigation Group, brought this startling statistic to my attention recently and added another important fact:
“While the trucking industry is well aware of the problem, trucking companies are not screening truck drivers for this problem. Instead, they are just telling drivers not to drive tired. The results of this willful failure by the industry is devastating for the those involved in a wreck with a tractor-trailer and their families!”
The sleep apnea study was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Association.
If truck drivers are found to have sleep apnea, they may be able to stay on the job once they are treated. Each state has its own medical standards for truck drivers, but in general, the FMCSA says drivers with moderate to severe sleep apnea are disqualified from driving trucks.
In May in Canada, the Canadian Trucking Alliance announced it has teamed up with OSA Canada Inc. to launch a sleep apnea program for commercial truck drivers. OSA Canada will screen, test and diagnose drivers as well as equip and train identified drivers with sleep apnea to use their CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) treatment machine and mask — all within 72 hours or less. OSA Canada Inc. will also provide monitoring of the CPAP equipment to ensure both driver comfort and compliance.
When will the American trucking companies take this bold move to save lives?
Please share your thoughts on this important issue below. Have you encountered what appeared to be sleepy truck drivers on the road, and how did you handle it? Did you contact the authorities? Try to warn other drivers?
Thanks for reading and sharing your comments!