Untreated sleep apnea affects the quality of sleep the individual experiences. This results in cognitive impairment, especially with regard to diminished vigilance and alertness. Oftentimes this impairment is not recognized or is consciously denied by the operator.
The prevalence of sleep apnea in safety-sensitive occupations is considerably higher than in the general population and depending on the average age, ranges between 25-30% of your driver population – sleep apnea is widely present in your fleet today.
With the average cost to the carrier of a DOT-reportable accident calculated to be $13,000 per accident, an effective sleep apnea management program can recover a mid-sized carrier retrievable safety-related costs amounting to over $200,000.00 per year.
In 2016 we published the first large-scale study of sleep apnea-related crash risk in commercial drivers (Burks, S., Berger M., et al. SLEEP, Vol. 39, No. 5, 2016). Over 1600 commercial drivers with diagnosed sleep apnea were compared to drivers without this condition. The study revealed that truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea had a five-fold greater risk of serious, preventable crashes when compared to of those with treated sleep apnea. The risk of serious DOT-reportable accident occurring in a driver with treated sleep apnea was the same as in a driver without sleep apnea.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported in 2014 that the average cost of a large truck crash involving a fatality is $3.6 million per crash. Implementing an effective sleep apnea management program is a cost-effective way to materially reduce the risk of these tragic and avoidable crashes for the carrier.