Driving while fatigued is a known problem that puts many Georgia drivers at risk. However, truckers who suffer from constructive sleep apnea particularly seem to be at a much higher risk of being in accident if they fail to treat their condition. One study found that truckers with sleep apnea are five times more likely to be in a crash when they do not follow a course of treatment, according to Harvard University.
Sleep apnea is a condition where a person’s breathing stops and restarts frequently throughout the night. Because of this, the person often ends up more tired the following day, which can affect his or her memory, attention span and motor skills. It is treated by a mask that keeps the person’s airways open, allowing him or her to sleep uninterrupted. Considering the fact that drowsy driving is a factor in 20 percent of accidents involving big trucks, this is an important issue.
As a result, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed rules that would set forth criteria requiring certain truckers to undergo screening for sleep apnea. Currently, truck drivers are required to undergo a medical exam every two years, reports Overdrive Magazine. Those examinations must be performed by a doctor that has been trained in protocols to test for sleep apnea. However, statistics are unclear as to how effective those exams are in leading to sleep apnea diagnoses.
The proposed screening criteria would be based on a driver’s body mass index. Drivers with a BMI of 33 or higher would require screening if they also meet a number of other conditions. A BMI of 40 or over would automatically require screening.