This is the third post in a three post series to promote the health of people with sleep apnea.

One of the top causes of car accidents is due to fatigue. It is estimated that 56,000 accidents a year are caused be fatigued drivers. (1) People with undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea are at increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel. (2) Approximately 17 to 28% of commercial truck drivers in the U.S. are estimated to have mild to severe sleep apnea. (3) This amounts to 2.4 to 3.9 million truck drivers that may or may not diagnosed or treated for sleep apnea. Studies have found that truck drivers with sleep apnea that is untreated are at two to 11 times the risk of being involved in automobile crashes.

sleepy trucker

In October of last year, President Obama signed into law, Public law number 113-45. This included mandatory screening of commercial truck drivers, testing for sleeping disorders, including sleep apnea, in those at risk, and treatment for those diagnosed. (4) Bill Graves, CEO of the American Trucking Association in 2013 stated, “There are more than 3 million professional truck drivers and the cost of screening, diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea could easily exceed $1 billion annually.” (4) Although it may be costly to the commercial trucking industry to screen their drivers, only those who meet certain risk factors are required to undergo a sleep study to determine if they do have sleep apnea. It is not only beneficial to the drivers, but to the citizens of the U.S. If those estimated 2.4 to 3.9 million drivers (3) with sleep apnea are diagnosed and treated, they will save lives lost due to car accidents.

Works Cited

  1. Sleep disorders as a cause of motor vehicle collisions. Tulio de Mello, M, Narciso, F V and Tufik, S. 3, 2013, Int J Prev Med, Vol. 4, pp. 246-257.
  2. WebMD. Sleep Apnea. [Online] 2014.
  3. Obstructive sleep apnea in North American commercial truck drivers. Kales, S. N and Straubel, M. G. 2014, Industrial Health, Vol. 52, pp. 13-24.
  4. Sousa, K. Law Passes Regarding Sleep Apnea Tests for Truckers. [Online] 2013.


Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

Altra Service Professionals (ASP) does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.