Sleep apnea is a common occurrence and its prominence is steadily increasing. It is a serious health condition which, if not treated, can lead to events such as stroke or worse, death. Commercial drivers are at a greater risk for diagnosis of sleep apnea. The long hours of travel due to requirements of the industry can take a toll on the body. Sleep apnea has many adverse effects including but not limited to: excessive drowsiness, insomnia, attention deficits, decreases in response times, impaired judgment, and more.
The U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced, “that new federal regulations designed to improve safety for the motoring public by reducing truck driver fatigue took full effect on July 1, 2013.” Sleep apnea is treatable. However, individuals must take responsibility in making sure that treatment is completed. This will both improve health conditions for drivers and make sure their job is performed as safely as possible. These new regulations will enforce sleep apnea screenings, testing and or treatment by all commercial drivers.
The American Trucking Associations support the bill 100%. According to the FMCSA, more than $280 million will be saved due to fewer truck crashes and an additional $470 million will be saved as a result of improved driver health.
These sanctions will also decrease the maximum amount of hours truckers drive per week from 82 to 70 hours. If the 70 hours of drive time are reached, truckers are allowed to continue driving only if 34 hours of consecutive sleep are obtained, “including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most – from 1-5am. During the first eight hours of a shift, a 30-minute break is required. This will allow the body to refresh, avoid impeded blood flow, and avoid possible injuries from extended periods of sitting due to impinged nerves or other possible compressions. Sleep apnea therapy will improve the quality of healthy for commercial drivers while simultaneously helping to reduce the risk of accidents with other vehicles. The best part about these new regulations is it will save lives and protect against the potential dangers of accidents associated with sleep apnea during travel.