Sleep Apnea Disorder-A major concern in the US Trucking Industry

Sleep apnea is a kind of breathing disorder which does not allow the person to sleep properly. Improper sleep pattern due to sleep apnea in turn causes fatigue. The safety issues related with this situation is becoming a major concern in the trucking industry. This is one of the prominent illness that the truckers are facing these days due to their lifestyle and challenges of the job. The life expectancy of a truck driver is 16 to 61 years less than the average life expectancy of an individual in the country. As per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association chief Anne Ferro 30% of the truck drivers are facing this health hazard.
Since the disease promotes fatigue and fatigue is the cause of 13% of truck accidents on the roads. Therefore sleep apnea will soon face legal complications for trucking companies and owner operators considering the risk factor associated with it. The number of truck drivers facing this problem can be known by the carrier company. Therefore these fatigue related accidents are causing legal problems for the carriers and serving as the easy ground to play and earn for attorneys.
Keeping the increased danger associated with this disorder now the regulations will be implemented with the guidance of FMCSA to regulate and monitor the symptoms of sleep apnea in drivers. Earlier regulations that were implemented more than 10 years before stated that: the driver should not have any respiratory problems that might affect his driving performance. The DOT officials were responsible to screen the drivers who showed symptoms of sleep apnea. This does not mean that any driver who is diagnosed with this impairment will not be certified as a professional driver. His certification will depend on the severity of the apnea and its impact on his driving capabilities.
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Medical review Board suggestion will be sought for various disorders related to the driver health. As it the question of one’s livelihood and they should be rejected certificate only on strong scientific study and evidences. Now with tightening of the sleep apnea regulations and its legal action the trucking companies are working hard in this respect. They are providing treatments to their drivers suffering from sleep apnea. The study suggests there has been 30 % less crashes reported by the drivers who were treated for this. Also the driver retention rate has drastically increase. after they were provided treatment by the trucking companies.
The cost of treatment is coming out to be high. The screening test costs around $200 and the follow up course which can go up to 90 days costs around $3500. This investment has proved out to be beneficial as it decreases the overall health care cost of the driver and increases the safety factor when the driver is on its way to dispatch available loads.
The truck drivers and carrier companies need to understand that this is a very challenging situation and a planned approach towards it will remove the complications involved. These days there are many third party organizations who can collaborate with trucking companies and can provide there services on this matter. Things will be resolved only when one takes action towards it.