Being tired while driving is dangerous, not only for you but for those around you. The situation is even more serious when driving a large vehicle.
A growing concern among commercial drivers is the presence of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) which is a sleep disorder that disrupts your night time rhythm due to a breathing obstruction. As a result, truck drivers may soon be required to undergo mandatory testing for this disorder.
Let’s look at the issue in more detail.
Dangers of OSA in Truck Drivers
If your sleep is disturbed during the night, it is more likely that you’ll be sleep deprived, groggy, and unfocused the next day. Sometimes these symptoms can be hard to identify, but when on the road, tiredness can be extremely dangerous due to a lack of alertness.
Multiple studies have shown that sleep apnea increases the risk of having a crash.
Perhaps most (in)famously, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) discovered that an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea led to the Dec. 1, 2013 Metro-North derailment of a train in the Bronx which killed four people and injured 60. You may also be aware of last year’s train accident in Hoboken, and the more recent event in Brooklyn in which sleep apnea has not been ruled out yet.
These are just some examples of how serious driving with OSA can be.
It not only endangers you as a driver, but the general public too. That’s why it is important to do something about it.
Symptoms of OSA
You may be thinking to yourself, “I can’t have sleep apnea. If I had it, I’d know about it!”
Perhaps surprisingly, this isn’t always the case. OSA can be really difficult to spot when attempting to self-diagnose. When you’re asleep, you’re not very aware of what’s going on with your body.
Being tired the next day after a full night’s sleep is one symptom of having sleep apnea, but other symptoms can include night sweats, high blood pressure, a headache and decreased libido.
Do any of these sound familiar?
If you have a partner, they may have noticed signs such as loud snoring, abrupt awakenings, and long periods without breathing followed by a sharp, deep breath. If they’ve mentioned any of these signs to you, it’s essential you take them as a warning.
The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are beginning to implement the first steps necessary to ensure drivers are tested for OSA.
While currently drivers are expected to self disclose their sleep apnea when it’s diagnosed, this method can lead to underreporting due to the number of people who genuinely don’t recognize the symptoms. And if you don’t know the symptoms, how can you get a diagnosis?
So what does this mean for you?
Well, if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea once mandatory testing begins, you’ll have to undergo treatment. There’s a chance you’ll be asked to wait a period of time when fitted with a device before commencing driving work again.
The impact on your job is something you’ll need to investigate with your employer and employment contract or union.
So, the bottom line is, the more proactive you are about identifying a potential problem, the better it will work out for you and your employer in the long run.
Why Wait? Call Sleep Rite for a Sleep Study
Waiting to be asked for a mandatory OSA test by your employer could be putting you and the general public at risk. Furthermore, it might put your job in jeopardy.
Remember, there’s a chance that you have OSA without even knowing it. There are many different ways that sleep apnea can be controlled or even resolved, so don’t delay. Book yourself in for a sleep study and take control of your health. Get in touch with us today!