Due to recent legal issues, some truck driving companies may begin to increase their regulations for sleep apnea. Various carriers throughout the country may begin requiring truck drivers to participate in sleep apnea screening in the near future.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is extremely common, and tends to show up more in men than in women. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing involuntarily while they are asleep. These periods of lost breath can last for over a minute and can occur hundreds of times each night without the person’s knowledge.
Growing obesity rates in the truck driving industry, have left drivers more disposed to acquiring sleep apnea. Truck drivers are prone to obesity because of the inability to exercise and unhealthy meal choices while on the road.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, OSA. One of the most obvious symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring. Snoring happens because the airway becomes blocked and the flow of air becomes obstructed causing vibrations to occur.
How is sleep apnea treated?
If you believe you may have sleep apnea, the first step is to talk with your doctor about getting a sleep apnea diagnosis from a sleep specialist. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, the next step is CPAP Therapy.
CPAP Therapy consists of a humidifier and a face mask to assist and guide your breathing. The CPAP machine pumps air with enough pressure to keep your airway clear.
What does this mean for truck drivers?
According to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FMCSA, reports show over 28 percent of truck drivers have sleep apnea. FMCSA explains that drivers with mild sleep apnea are still qualified for truck driving jobs. However, they recommend seeking medical attention with a medical examiner to determine a truck driver’s fitness to operate a motor vehicle.
Disrupted sleep can decrease a truck driver’s cognitive function and can cause increased daytime sleepiness. This leads to more truck driving accidents. Drivers with sleep apnea are affected during working hours in terms of function and focus. Sleep apnea may lead to unsafe working environments and roads.
Dr. James Metz, Doctor of Sleep Apnea for Metz Center in Columbus, Ohio, shared with Overdrive Magazine that he grew up around the trucking industry. He witnessed first-hand the unhealthy lifestyles of truck drivers. He sought out to work with fleets to promote healthy eating for truck drivers in the hopes of reducing chances of sleep apnea.
Currently, many trucking companies are requiring truck drivers to get tested for sleep apnea. Oftentimes, this comes at the expense of the truck driver. However, since there is an ever-growing need for drivers, fleets may begin to work closely with drivers to help cover costs.
Advanced Career Institute is a California trucking school with campuses located in Visalia, Fresno and Merced. ACI offers truck driver training to help students obtain their Class A CDL, Class B CDL and Ag Transportation CDL. ACI offers tuition assistance and job placement assistance to help CDL training graduates find a career in the truck driving industry. Interested in learning more about CDL Training with Advanced Career Institute, visit our website: www.advanced.edu.