The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), reports that over 28 percent of truck drivers have sleep apnea. FMCSA explains that drivers with mild sleep apnea are still qualified for truck driving jobs. However, they recommend seeking medical attention with a medical examiner to determine a truck driver’s fitness to operate a motor vehicle.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a disorder, in which a person’s breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. These periods of lost breath can last for over a minute and can occur hundreds of times each night without the person’s knowledge. It is extremely common and tends to show up more in men than in women.
One of the treatments for OSA is the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP, machine. The CPAP machine, which is the most common treatment for sleep apnea, pumps air into a mask that fits over the mouth, nose or both to keep the airways open during sleep.
David C. Brodner, M.D., a Board-Certified Sleep Medicine specialist in Boynton Beach, Florida stated, “How you feel and perform during the day is related, not only to how much sleep you get but also the quality of your sleep. Sleep apnea sufferers who are not using their CPAP enough, or not at all, are getting poor quality sleep that will negatively affect their health, mood, memory, and daily function. This can result in increased traffic accident risk.”
Disrupted sleep can decrease a truck driver’s cognitive function and can cause increased daytime sleepiness. This leads to more truck driving accidents. Drivers with sleep apnea are affected during working hours in terms of function and focus. Sleep apnea may lead to unsafe working environments and roads.
“Because sleep apnea affects a person’s sleep, it also affects their daytime alertness and performance,” Dr. Brodner explains. “Untreated sleep apnea can make it difficult to stay awake, focus eyes, and react quickly while driving. In general, studies show that people with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of being involved in a fatigue-related motor vehicle crash.”
The high rate of sleep apnea in truck drivers creates a public safety hazard that is much more serious than a bit of sleepiness. 2016 research from AAA shows that drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep a day more than quadruple their risk of getting in a crash. In addition, experts from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have reported that driving while drowsy is similar to drunk driving in terms of its effects on reflexes, coordination, and judgment.
Dr. Brodner Provides Effective Sleep Apnea Treatment
David C. Brodner, M.D. has been caring for the patients of Palm Beach County since 2001 and is proficient in managing all ailments of the Adult Ears, Nose and Throat. He founded The Center for Sinus, Allergy, and Sleep Wellness in 2009 to offer the latest minimally invasive therapies for sinus headache, sinus infections, allergy testing and treatment, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and insomnia. Dr. Brodner also uses his experience and knowledge to help people as a research and development consultant, medical records reviewer, quality assurance and disability adjudicator, and expert witness. He was the first specialist in Palm Beach County to earn Board Certification in both Sleep Medicine and Otolaryngology.