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Sleep Apnea Solutions

Study Looks at OSA and Truck Drivers’ Crash Risk

Submitted by New Jersey Snoring Solutions on Sat 04/16/2016 - 09:00

Last month, the journal of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine published a study that looked at obstructive sleep apnea and the crash risk of commercial motor vehicle drivers. The largest of its kind, the study showed that truck drivers with sleep apnea that do not regularly adhere to their mandated treatment program are much more likely to crash their vehicles. Here, Dr. Ivan Stein of New Jersey Sleep Apnea Solutions discusses the study and its findings in more detail.

What the Study Found

A research team from the Truckers & Turnover Project at the University of Minnesota looked at more than 1,600 truck drivers diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, and an equal number of control drivers. The drivers with sleep apnea were given continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to treat their apnea episodes; the machines were fitted with special chips to track their usage.

The truck drivers that did not use their CPAP machines were five times more likely to crash, compared to the control group. The drivers that always or sometimes used their CPAP machines had a crash rate similar to the control group.

The study is important because it indicates a serious risk to public safety on U.S. roadways. “It is critical for transportation companies to implement comprehensive sleep apnea screening and treatment programs to ensure that truck drivers stay awake at the wheel,” noted Dr. Nathaniel Watson, the president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

More about Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea tends to cause excessive daytime sleepiness, which can make truck drivers drowsy and dangerous on the roads. Data shows that drivers with sleep apnea that remained non-compliant with their mandated CPAP therapy were eventually terminated. However, they may still be on the roads working for other trucking firms that do not screen for sleep apnea.

CPAP machines, which keep the airways open during sleep, are widely used to treat sleep apnea. However, many people find them uncomfortable, bulky and loud. Dr. Stein specializes in oral appliance therapy, in which a small device similar to a mouthguard holds the jaw and tongue in a forward position and keeps the airway clear.

Contact Our Sleep Apnea Doctor

If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness — on the road or elsewhere — and suspect you may have sleep apnea, Dr. Stein recommends you see a sleep specialist for testing and diagnosis. If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea and would like more information about oral appliances, please contact us for a consultation by calling (855) WHY-SNORE or (855) 949-7667 today.