With so many different types of researchers around the world working in different fields, it’s inevitable that we get some studies that sound a tad strange. Even more common are those studies that are simply poorly researched and approached, leading to a weird-sounding and totally inaccurate result.
The study we’re going to talk about today only fits in the first category. According to a team of researchers from our very own United States, untreated sleep apnea increases crash risk for truckers. Being observational, the study didn’t find what the link between the two was, but it is as accurate as it could be.
Sleep apnea statistics
Generally manifesting as pauses in breathing during deep sleep, sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition. It usually causes sufferers to unconsciously wake up, breathe deeply, and then to instantly fall back asleep. Depending on the seriousness of the condition, people suffering from it have to wear continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks so as not to risk dying in their sleep.
As many as 25 million United States citizens are affected by a form of the disease, obstructive sleep apnea. As it’s quite uncomfortable sleeping with a mask on your face and some of the 25 million are definitely truckers, so it’s really unfortunate when they choose not to adhere to their treatment.
Crash rate study
This is because according to the study led by Stephen Burks of the Truckers & Turnover Project at the University of Minnesota, the truck drivers that choose not to treat their condition are five times as likely to get in a serious crash. The cause of this is yet unknown, but the statistics are accurate.
By looking at more than 1,600 truck drivers with sleep apnea and at 1,600 healthy truck drivers as a control group, the team of researchers monitored their use of the issued CPAP machines. The drivers using the machine regularly had about the same chance as healthy drivers to have serious but preventable accidents, while those who didn’t use them had five times that chance.
Very importantly, the study showcases how much of an effect untreated sleep apnea has on driving safety. If an untreated driver has five times the chance of crashing their truck, it stands to reason that the same applies to sedan or other type of vehicle drivers.
So, the Truckers & Turnover Project leader advises that people follow their sleep apnea treatments, and also that transportation companies implement sleep apnea treatment and screening programs in order to raise awareness about the dangers of the condition.
Image source: YouTube