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Truck Drivers Not Following Sleep Apnea Treatment Are at a Greater Risk of Accidents

February 09, 2021

According to, a new study that the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute co-authored discovered that truckers diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and neglect their mandated treatment program are at a 500% greater chance of having a severe accident. 

The study was initiated after discovering that as many as 60% of truck drivers who were required to undergo mandated sleep apnea treatment quit those driving jobs.  The study's researchers also found that current federal regulations are behind the research due to a lack of data available concerning the effectiveness of mandated sleep apnea treatment programs.  This study has created the first "large-scale" database that determines how "screening, diagnosing, and monitoring obstructive sleep apnea among truck drivers" can impact their accident risk.

The study's co-author Erin Mabry, a senior research associate at Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute's Center for Truck and Bus Safety, stated that earlier research data identified obstructive sleep apnea as one of the most prevalent conditions that could lead to excessive daytime fatigue and drowsiness.  She also stated that these new findings stress that truck drivers with sleep apnea must adhere to their treatment program.

The study compared 1,600 truck drivers diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea with the same amount of truck drivers who were unlikely to have obstructive sleep apnea.  Drivers in the former category were given auto-adjusting positive airway pressure treatment machines, and they were objectively monitored.  Schneider fulfilled the treatment program.  The sturdy group results were then compared with the U.S. Department of Transportation's statistics on reportable crashes per 100,000 miles. 

According to lead author Stephen Burks, professor of economics and management at the University of Minnesota (Morris), the study discovered that for every 1,000 truck drivers, truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea who refuse treatment would cause about 70 preventable truck accidents compared to only 14 truck accidents endured by both a control group and the group of drivers who have sleep apnea and adhered to their treatment.

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Category: Truck Accidents

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