Truck Drivers and Sleep Disorders
Sleep apnea is a major contributor to daytime drowsiness: a condition that could prove deadly for commercial truck drivers and involved passenger vehicles. It is a condition where, during sleep, a narrowing or closure of the upper airway can cause sleep disturbances leading to poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness. Since excessive sleepiness can be a consequence of sleeping disturbances, drivers with sleep apnea have compromised driving performance leading to increases in the risks of crashes.
According to the Divided Attention Driving Task, a research test designed to mimic driving performance, individuals with sleep apnea perform, on average, as poorly as individuals whose levels of blood alcohol concentration exceed the legal limit. The results of this study show that the prevalence rates of sleep apnea among commercial truck drivers are similar to sleep apnea rates found in other general populations. This is in contrast to the extremely high prevalence rates reported previously by the Stoohs study. [Stoohs, Sleep and Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Commercial Long-Haul Truck Drivers, 1995]