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Sleep apnea screening latest push to combat trucking accidents

It doesn't take a genius to conclude that big rig trucks can cause much more damage than a passenger vehicle in the event of an auto collision.

And because of the risk, commercial vehicles and their operators are required to adhere to strict regulations to mitigate trucking accidents.

Such regulations continuously change as new revelations and safety concerns hit the industry.

Some suggest that screening for sleep apnea-a condition that causes disruptions to breathing patterns during sleep that results in extreme daytime fatigue-should be mandated for all commercial truckers.

Here's why.

The suggestion comes after the release of a study from the University of Minnesota Morris. The study analyzed roughly 3200 CMV drivers-half who had been diagnosed with sleep apnea and half who had not.

Conclusions revealed that those who were diagnosed with the disorder (and did not get it continuously treated) had a 5 times higher likelihood of being in a trucking accident than those who did not have the condition.

Given that trucker fatigue is one of the leading causes of 18 wheeler accidents in America, this is a stunning revelation.

As a result, roadway safety enthusiasts are suggesting that all drivers get tested for apnea screening as part of their medical exam.

The Morris study isn't the only data to support the push. According to government crash data analyzed over the 9 year period from 2004 to 2013, almost 9,000 deaths occurred due to sleepy commercial vehicle operators.

Lead study author and professor of economics and management at Morris, Stephen Burks, hopes that the information gathered from the study will resonate with policy making officials in the years to come.

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