HGV drivers should be routinely tested for sleep apnoea.
Half of European truck drivers surveyed (Italy) suffered from a breathing problem that could cause them to fall asleep at wheel
Firstly,if you DON'T already know, Sleep apnoea is when your breathing stops and starts while you sleep. The most common type is called obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
In a recent survey of 905 truck drivers, it was found that approximately half suffered from at least one sleep-related breathing problem that could potentially cause them to fall asleep at the wheel. Which begs the question, should LGV drivers should be routinely tested for sleep apnoea after a study found that half of them suffer from breathing disorders?
In a presentation at the European Respiratory Society international congress on Monday 30.10.19, Luca Roberti, president of Apnoici Italiani, the Italian sleep apnoea patient association, called for compulsory testing of sleep-related breathing problems by European haulage companies.
“Considering that drivers are in charge of transport vehicles weighing several tons, companies have a responsibility to ensure their employees are safe to drive and are not at risk of suddenly falling asleep at the wheel,” he said.
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing. Research has shown that someone who is deprived of sleep due to OSA may be up to 12 times more likely to be involved in a driving accident.
Of the 905 drivers interviewed, 887 were men and 17 women with an average age of 46 years.
Researchers found that 77% were overweight or obese. Nearly 10% of drivers said their partners noticed that they sometimes stopped breathing when they were sleeping; 55% were habitual snorers and 43% were at risk of OSA.
Roberti said: “This observational study has underlined the high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnoea among truck drivers, which is greater than the prevalence in the general population. This is due to a lifestyle that forces the drivers to sit for several hours a day, with little physical activity and a poor diet, leading to a greater risk of excessive daytime sleepiness and of dozing off unexpectedly while driving.”
“Haulage companies should make it compulsory for their drivers to have examinations to diagnose any sleep-related breathing problems, and both they and their drivers should give careful consideration to drivers’ diets,” concluded Roberti.
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