Truck drivers who fail to adhere to treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have a fivefold increase in the risk of serious, preventable crashes, according to a new study led by University of Minnesota, Morris faculty, staff, and student researchers and supported by the Roadway Safety Institute at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
Released online on March 21 by the journal Sleep, this is the largest study of sleep apnea and crash risk among commercial motor vehicle drivers to date.
The study compared more than 1,600 truck drivers diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to an equal number of drivers screened as unlikely to have OSA. The rates of preventable serious truck crashes per 100,000 miles driven were compared across the study groups.
“To put our findings in context, if we look at 1,000 truck drivers each working for a year, the drivers with obstructive sleep apnea who refuse mandated treatment would have 70 preventable serious truck crashes, compared to 14 crashes experienced by both a control group and by drivers with sleep apnea who adhered to treatment,” said Stephen Burks, lead author of the study, and professor of economics and management at Morris.