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Sleep apnea in truck drivers linked to obesity

Truck driver fatigue is one of the most obvious causes of truck crashes. Obstructive sleep apnea is among the most common contributing factors. Obesity is a big risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea.

Now there is another study reconfirming the obvious: that obesity-driven testing strategies identify commercial truck drivers with a high likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and that mandating obstructive sleep apnea screenings could reduce the risk of truck crashes.

The study by Cambridge Health Alliance published in the March 2009 edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concludes that:

– Truck drivers with sleep apnea have up to a 7-fold increased risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash.

– Drivers with sleep apnea frequently minimize or underreport symptoms such as snoring and daytime sleepiness.

– A majority of truck drivers did not follow through on physician recommendations for sleep studies and sleep apnea treatment.

– It is possible that many of the 14 million truck drivers on American road have undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea.

– “It is very likely that most of the drivers who did not comply with sleep studies or sleep apnea treatment sought medical certification from examiners who do not screen for sleep apnea and are driving with untreated or inadequately treated sleep apnea.”

– The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently deliberating recommendations to require sleep apnea screening for all obese drivers based on body mass index or “BMI.”

Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale), and is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.