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How many sleep-deprived truckers cruise central Illinois?

It is estimated that about 25 million American adults have obstructive sleep apnea. Somehow it seems fair to wonder if maybe that estimate isn't a little on the low side. Consider that experts say that one of the hallmarks of OSA is that the person with it snores to beat the band, followed by stopped breathing and then gasps.

Truth be told, the condition is so common that most of us in Illinois probably know someone with it or might be enduring it ourselves. What's most disturbing, though, is that the it's so common that it is easily to dismiss as normal.

Research suggests that those who do that are really playing with their lives, raising their risk of heart trouble. And, as a new study suggests, many commercial drivers behind the wheels of large semitrailer trucks who ignore their conditions are playing with the lives of others on the road. They are much more likely to cause serious truck accidents.

The study was published this month in the journal Sleep and reported on by various outlets, including Reuters. It found that truckers in the study group who have sleep apnea but refused to follow a required treatment for it, were up to five times more likely to be involved in crashes than were control group drivers without OSA. Drivers who adequately treated their sleep apnea had accident rates about on a par with the control group.

The chief author of the study says results support the idea that a common standard requiring sleep apnea testing of all drivers is needed. That's something that could be done through medical exams that are already required for commercially licensed drivers, but it isn't a requirement right now.

Considering the risks and in light of these findings, what do you think should happen?

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