Sleep Apnea Truck Drivers – Are You At Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Keep truckers awake and alive

“As many as 28 percent of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders have sleep apnea”, says US motor carrier authority.

This means sleep apnea truck drivers pose a considerable risk for themselves and other road users. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has prepared the following list of risk factors that must be considered when a person is being assessed for sleep apnea.  According to the FMCSA article, sleep apnea is a sleep related disorder whereby the person stops breathing anything up to 400 times in a night.

“Sleep apnea occurs in all age groups and both sexes, but there are certain factors that put you at higher risk:

    • A family history of sleep apnea
    • Being overweight
    • A large neck size (17 inches or greater for men, 16 inches or greater for women)
    • Being age 40 or older
    • Having a small upper airway
    • Having a recessed chin, small jaw or a large overbite
    • Smoking and alcohol use
    • Ethnicity”

FMCSA warns that symptoms of sleep apnea are ‘dangerous and potentially deadly’ for commercial truck drivers.  These symptoms can include the following:

    • daytime sleepiness;
    • falling asleep at inappropriate times;
    • loud snoring;
    • depression;
    •  irritability;
    •  loss of sex drive;
    •  morning headaches;
    •  frequent nighttime urination;
    •  lack of concentration; and
    •  memory impairment.

While these symptoms may also indicate other sleep disorders and medical conditions, the chronic tiredness that comes with sleep apnea is a potential death threat to truck drivers and anyone else who is in command of a motor vehicle on the roads.

The good news is, according to FMCSA, that sleep apnea is a treatable disorder with an effective therapy being provided through the use of devices such as a continuous pressure air pump (CPAP) machine.  Other lifestyle support for management of the problem is to lose weight, avoid sleeping on your back and avoiding alcohol consumption before bedtime.  Other treatments could involve the use of dental devices and possibly surgery.

 “Once you have received treatment for sleep apnea and comply with your treatment plan,” according to the FMCSA, “you can do your job as safely as someone who doesn’t have the disorder.”

 “If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, the FMCSA and the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) urge commercial truck and motorcoach drivers to discuss the problem with their doctor.”    Read the full article from FMCSA here…..

Although sleep apnea truck drivers can pose a considerable risk of fatigued related truck accidents, it appears that, with appropriate treatment, it is possible to drive safely.

 Disclaimer:  The information contained in this article and anywhere in this website is meant for the purposes of creating awareness in the community about sleep apnea and associated topics.  The information provided is not meant to be relied upon for making medical decisions and no responsibility will be taken for any actions taken as a result of reading this information.




Employment of Truckers With Sleep Apnea

A hot question on a lot of truckers is whether a company can deny employment of truckers with sleep apnea.  It appears from truckers’ personal experiences that the answer is a mixed bag.

From a recent chain of conversations on  Life As A Trucker,  it all started with the question from ‘bradly from booneville ms’ :

Sleep apnea truck driver wearing seatbelt giving the thumbs-up sign

Sleep Apnea Truckers Can a Company Deny Employment?

“Can a trucking company deny me employment for having sleep apnea? It is treated and I don’t have problems with it anymore. Just looking for some insight if any of you guys know anything about truckers with sleep apnea. thanks!”

Two replies to this question show the different attitudes that currently exist in the industry.  The first from ‘Gary’ gave the following opinion:

“Now according to the Law, since sleep apnea can be successfully treated, then it is illegal to deny employment for the condition. However, companies usually find some reason to deny employment. 

However, with other companies encourage people to apply. Two companies that come to mind is Martin Transportation and Schneider.”

The second comment by ‘NickV’ gives another perspective:

“As long as you can past their bmi(body mass index) which has something to do with neck size to body weight. Also if you were diagnosed your doctor has to clear you. As long as that then your good”

As with any type of new regulation, there will always be unscrupulous employers who will abuse the system.  Time usually tells though that most employers serious about the safety of their truck drivers will do the right thing.  Until then, employment of truckers with sleep apnea will continue to be communicated with one another and word will spread as to which companies are doing the right thing and which not.


Sleep Apnea Trucker Accident Widow Gets Compensation

The hot topic of whether or not truck drivers should be subject to sleep apnea testing and regulations  just will not go away.   The seriousness of the issue was highlighted at the news that a sleep apnea trucker accident widow received compensation.

“A Texas widow recently won a $3.25-million lawsuit against the carrier, claiming that the driver in the Celadon truck that collided with her car was a sleep-apnea sufferer. Furthermore, he had been fired from a previous job because he refused to have as sleep-apnea test.”

Sleep Apnea Trucking Overturned truck on the side of the road

Sleep Apnea Trucker Accident Widow Gets Compensation

“After the crash, Lindsay’s lawyer Jim Cole testified that the truck driver had severe uncontrolled sleep apnea and had tried to gain employment with 30 other companies before being hired by Celadon. Cole also acknowledged that the settlement marks the first time a trucking company has acknowledged that sleep apnea might have contributed to a crash involving a death.”

This news was reported in Today’s Trucking.  It appears this won’t be the last we hear of such outcomes as a sleep apnea trucker accident widow getting compensation.  



Sleep Apnea Driver Testing Regulations – Who Pays?

The question of who will pay for sleep apnea driver testing will no doubt be a sore question for quite some time.  Some feel that it should be the responsibility of the trucking company to its drivers as a means of keeping them safe on the roads.  Others feel that it’s the responsibility of the individual driver for pay for testing and treatment.

One company, Air Flow Industrial Clinics, is poised to gather for the proposed testing regulations regardless of who will pay.  Their website offers information to the trucking firm about the benefits of using them for their testing program.

Sleep apnea Trucking Man counting money

Sleep Apnea Driver Testing Regulations - Who Pays?

“You can hire sleep specialists like AeroFlow Industrial Clinics to test your drivers and make treatment recommendations. We’ll follow through with periodic evaluations to be sure the treatments of choice made by your drivers diagnosed with sleep apnea are being used and are alleviating the apnea.”

But they haven’t forgotten the individual as they appear to offer a free consultation when contacted through their website.

Whether you are concerned about who pays the cost of sleep apnea driver testing or you are just concerned about whether or not you have sleep apnea, then please seek help from your health professional as soon as possible.


Sleep Apnea Driver Testing Regulations Will Benefit ResMed

There are those who question who will benefit financially from the proposed USA implementation of mandatory sleep apnea driver testing regulations.  Will it benefit the drivers and public more or will it be of more benefit to the businesses that produce the sleep apnea equipment.

A recent article on Deal Journal Australia discusses how ResMed is set to capitalize in the USA on the ‘chunky’ truck driver with a high body mass index (BMI).

Sleep Apnea Trucking Obese man enetering his pickup

Sleep Apnea Truckers - Obesity is a Strong Predictor of Sleep Apnea


“…ResMed is poised to benefit after a joint committee of key advisory boards to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, this month recommended mandatory sleep testing for interstate truck drivers with a BMI in excess of 35, following recommendations by National Transport Safety Boards in October 2009”

The article went on to discuss how ResMed is poised for a drive on growth which includes focussing on the transport workers.  There is also a report about how ResMed has information on its website about the benefits of sleep apnea treatment to one particular transport firm.

“ResMed is a manufacturer of sleep apnea treatment technology for truck drivers, and on its website, cites a successful case study. “One trucking company client that instituted a program to diagnose and treat sleep apnea demonstrated a 56% reduction in medical expenses for their treated drivers, resulting in a per driver savings of over US$7,000 per year. They have also seen a 50% reduction in preventable accidents,” the company said.”

Your thoughts may be that current focus on sleep apnea driver testing regulations is purely financially driven by the likes of ResMed.  Or you may feel that this regulation could be a good thing.

Whatever your thoughts, if you or someone you know is concerned about the possibility of having sleep apnea then the best course of action is to see your health professional immediately.


Sleep Apnea Truck Driver Widow Speaks Out

Possible sleep apnea truck drivers have been in the spotlight again as widow

Sleep apnea truck driver - broken trucks and broken lives

Sleep Apnea Truck Driver Widow Speaks Out

Dana Johnson spoke recently in Charlotte about how her husband died in a trucking accident.

“This crash in particular was caused by a truck driver who police say fell asleep at the wheel.  Statistics show 28 percent of truckers on the road are fatigued. After losing her husband, Dana Johnson says something needs to be done.”

Dana’s stoic message was reported in  She described what happened that tragic day when her husband Shawn died.

“On July 30, Shawn was driving near Greenville, South Carolina when a trucker named Eddie Wyatt fell asleep at the wheel.

“He crossed over the median and hit my husband head on and killed him,” Dana told the told the crowd.”

Dana is now passionate about the problems caused by sleep apnea truck drivers on the roads.  Her concern is echoed by the owner Saavedre) of the trucking company where the driver was employed.

““It’s something I think the DMV or the DOT has to be involved in and address it for everybody,” said Saavedre.

“My goal is to get some laws changed, so this doesn’t happen again,” said Dana.”

It appears that sleep apnea truck drivers will be an on-going cause of concern.  If you or anyone you know is concerned that they may have sleep apnea then please see your health professional immediately to seek proper diagnosis and treatment.


Sleep Apnea Truckers Treatment Equipment in Cabs

Sleep apnea truck driver l Sleeping man with sleep apnea mask

Sleep Apnea Trucking: Sleep apnea truckers treatment equipment in cabs may soon be the rule.

 Sleep apnea truckers treatment equipment in cabs – is this the way to go?

The FMCSA has suggested that the trucking industry should have sleep apnea truckers treatment equipment in cabs with them for treatment.  While the FMCSA is eager to see this happen, the trucking industry can see problems with using sleep apnea treatment equipment in truck berth cabins.

In a recent article in “Transport Topic” of Trucking and Freight Transportation News the FMCSA chief safety officer flagged two new rules related to sleep apnea.

“Jack Van Steenburg, chief safety officer of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, told maintenance directors meeting here that the agency is pursuing two rules related to sleep apnea:

The first, which is coming soon, addresses the registration of medical personnel who examine truck drivers.

The other would provide guidelines on how to deal with sleep apnea, including a possible mandate that drivers diagnosed with the condition would have to use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, which keep the user’s airway open during sleep.”

A short explanation of the problem is given in the article:

“Sleep apnea is a condition where the tongue and soft palate relax when a person sleeps. They can collapse and obstruct breathing, causing a person to wake up so often that he or she is not refreshed by sleep. CPAP machines keep nasal passages open with a constant stream of air, allowing lengthy, uninterrupted sleep. Older people and the overweight are more likely to suffer from the condition.”

While industry consultants are enthusiastic about the benefits of sleep apnea treatment machines, a question was raised about possible engineering problems which could be associated with trying to use the equipment in a truck berth cabin.  However, although use of sleep apnea truckers treatment equipment in cabs may be awkward or uncomfortable at first, users of the equipment may find a considerable benefit to using the equipment in the long run.

Anyone who suspects they may have sleep apnea because of known risk factors are urged to get treatment from their health professional as soon as possible.


Sleep Apnea Trucking Accident Possibilities

Sleep Apnea Trucking Overturned truck on the side of the road

Sleep Apnea Truck Driver Accident Possibilities

Sleep apnea trucking accident possibilities – the statistics can be alarming:

“A study of trucking accidents conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration found that 50 percent of accidents involving large trucks result in injuries that kill or permanently incapacitate. In nearly 90 percent of these crashes, the driver was found to be at fault, and a sleeping truck driver was found to be the cause in 7 percent of these. More than 5,000 accidents and 125,000 injuries occur every year because of accidents involving trucks.”

These numbers have been reported in an article on Finding a Truck Job website.  The article goes on to reveal how obstructive sleep apnea (OBS) has become a growing concern nation-wide especially among trucking companies.

“Falling asleep while handling a semi-truck travelling at 60 miles per hour down a freeway is a…  … potentially fatal situation. Since approximately 14 million people in the United States hold commercial driving licenses, between 3 million and 4 million of these people are suspected to suffer from OSA (obstructive sleep apnea).”  parathesis added

This analysis of possible sleep apnea trucking accidents serves to highlight the need for serious investigation into this growing health problem.

Anything that can help sleep apnea truckers improve health and wellness is a worthwhile effort.  One of the things that you can do for yourself is to start an exercise program.  This can be a simple walking, jogging or running, or more gentle such as yoga.  For people working full-time, exercise usually means something done in the evening, early morning or night time hours.  This can present another element of safety need and that is to make yourself visible to the night-time driver.

Two products from Amazon can help with this problem.  One is a reflective safety vest, and the other is a set of small LED lights that you can clip on your arms or clothing.   They have been getting very good buyer reviews and are reasonably priced.  The first product is called MoonRunner (Deluxe) Reflective Safety Vest and the second is called LifeStyleLytz  LED Safety Light Clip On for Night Runners.

CLICK HERE FOR MoonRunner product

 CLICK HERE for the LifeStyleLytz product.



Sleep Apnea Truck Drivers or Just Fatigue

Are possible sleep apnea truck drivers the cause of major truck accidents or is it just fatigue?

Controversy still surrounds the proposed regulations for compulsory testing for possible sleep apnea truck drivers.  While truck accidents will continue to be major incidence because of the sheer weight and volume of a truck, some people propose that sleep apnea is not entirely to blame.

“Some trucking industry members oppose the restrictions and the VP of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that he believes fatigued driving trucking accidents are due to exhaustion and not sleep apnea.”

This opinion was discussed in a recent article by Knapp and Roberts, Personal Injury Lawyers:

“There are many contributing factors to these tragic accidents but one of the most common causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Two government safety advisory panels recently recommended sleep apnea testing for obese truck drivers and other sleep apnea-related guidelines in order to help lower the number of trucking accidents.”

“Sleep apnea is a condition common in obese individuals which causes shallow breath or breathing stoppages during sleep. This prevents a person from obtaining the deep, rejuvenating sleep cycles and makes daytime fatigue more likely.”

Possible sleep apnea truck drivers need to make the decision for themselves as to whether sleep apnea is to blame for their chronic tiredness or just sheer exhaustion from overwork.  Most people who are diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea report are marked change in their sleep habits and daytime energy and wakefullness.

The economic and physical trauma of a possible road accident is horrendous.  One woman testified at the recent hearing before the advisory panels.  She likened the result of the truck accident that killed her husband to ‘a war zone’.  

In comparison, the relatively small cost of diagnosis and possible treatment for sleep apnea through an appropriate health professional is worth the effort to find out if you are a potential sleep apnea truck driver.


Sleep Apnea Trucking and National Sleep Awareness Week

Sleep apnea truck driver wearing seatbelt giving the thumbs-up sign

Sleep Apnea Truckers Can Improve Health and Safety - Help Make the Seatbelt Fit Better!

Sleep apnea trucking congratulates the recent  National Sleep Awareness Week (5 to 11 March 2012).  The Awareness week endeavors to create a greater awareness of the problems of insufficient sleep including problems created by sleep apnea in the trucking industry.

Find out if you may be at risk of the affects of sleep apnea trucking.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding sleep apnea then you need to contact your health professional immediately for appropriate help and possible pr=treatment.




Sleep Apnea Truck Drivers Are Not the Only Transport Workers Effected

Sleep apnea truck drivers are not the only transport workers affected by this sleep disorder.  Recent flurry of media attention has focused heavily on the trucking industry because of proposed regulations.  But other transport workers are equally at risk of sleep apnea according to a recent article on Overhead Bin.

Tired Delivery Driver Could Suffer From Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Truck Drivers - Chronic Tiredness Effects All Transport Drivers

“Results from a major study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation suggest airline pilots are some of the sleepiest transportation workers in the country, along with train operators.”

Sleep apnea incidents require self-reporting

In the trucking industry, there seems to be a concern that incidences of sleep apnea accidents and near-misses are not reporting voluntarily. therefore, the true volume of sleep apnea effect incidents are not known.

The article in Overhead Bin goes on to report on the study’s findings:

“…….a significant number of pilots and train operators say that sleepiness has caused safety problems on the job. Of the pilots surveyed, 20 percent admitted that they have made a serious error because of sleepiness. About 18 percent of train operators — either an engineer or conductor — likewise reported they’ve had a “near miss” due to sleepiness. The study, released last week, has a high confidence level of 95 percent.”

Sleep apnea is gradually becoming a a health and safety issue that is discussed more openly.  This can only be a good thing when the lives of our transport workers, passengers, and general road users are at risk from this energy and health zapping sleep disorder.

Sleep apnea truck drivers owe it to themselves, family, and others to seek help from their health professional if they suspect they may have this problem.

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