As part of an ongoing effort to improve railroad and motor carrier safety across the country, a rule recently proposed jointly by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) would require personnel in safety-sensitive positions to be tested for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
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Asleep at Wheel/Driver Fatigue
Truck drivers that suffer from sleep apnea and do not follow their treatment plan are at risk for higher truck accident rates then truck drivers who do not have sleep apnea.
Some people think that trucker fatigue is caused by the trucker not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep is one possible cause of trucker fatigue, but it isn't the only cause.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013” were likely caused by drowsy driving. These are estimated numbers, however, and are likely to be much higher as many accidents that occur are not recorded as being caused by a drowsy driving.
And it’s not getting better on its own. In the past decade, the U.S. has seen a 20% increase in the number of truck accidents. This could be attributed to a few things: the upturn in the economy requiring more trucks on the road, changing regulations, or perhaps the increasing amount of truckers with sleep disorders and obesity-related illnesses.
According to their findings, as many as 21% of fatal auto accidents involve drowsy driving. Approximately 13% of crashes requiring a trip to the emergency room, and 7% of all crashes, are caused by sleep-deprived drivers.
Driving while fatigued does not only increase the risk of falling asleep and losing control of the vehicle, but also creates other impairments, such as poor judgment and decision-making, slowed reaction times, and loss of situational awareness.
Drivers thinking that they can still driver through sleepiness is one of the main reasons that South Carolina and other states have a problem with drowsy driving. Eliminating sleepiness while driving is not guaranteed by caffeine and energy drinks just because they give you a boost in many other ways.
A sleep disorder report published by Fox News on Sept. 29 states that commercial truck drivers who get treated for obstructive sleep apnea may reduce their crash risk if they're treated for at least two years. Receiving this treatment can reduce their risk of a crash down to as low as those who don't have sleep apnea.
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