When an accident involves a big rig, the consequences are often devastating, if not fatal. Commercial truck operators have a bigger responsibility than most passenger vehicle drivers to remain safe and alert. The size alone is a major factor: Trucks are often more than 20 times greater than a car.

Because truck drivers may have vision problems, consume alcohol, text and allow other distractions, these are major contributors to accidents. The Huffington Post also cites that obstructive sleep apnea may also be a contributor to truck accidents.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Sufferers of chronic obstructive sleep apnea experience pauses in their breathing throughout the night. The interruptions lead to restless sleep and can prevent a person from ever obtaining the deep sleep necessary for good health. This also causes a person to feel tired throughout the day. A person who has sleep apnea may have a full night’s sleep and still wake up unrested.

In the U.S., about 25 million adults have sleep apnea. Out of all commercial truckers, about 20% have sleep apnea. Patients with sleep apnea can use pressurized-air devices to treat the condition, but some choose not to receive any treatment.

How is obstructive sleep apnea a risk?

Drowsy driving is a contributing factor in over 300,000 crashes every year. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that out of 3,600 truckers, those with untreated sleep apnea had five times more risk of an accident. For those who treat their condition, there is less risk. To be safe on the road, truckers must make sleep apnea treatment a priority.