The Tragedy of of obstructive sleep apnea and sleep deprivation.

 It is estimated that moderate level OSA can increase the chances of a MVA by up to 10 times that of those unaffected by the disease.

Strangely this question may be asked of commercial drivers but not private drivers, who outnumber commercial drivers on the roads.

Tragedy follows Sleep Disordered Breathing

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) reduces oxygen levels in the blood which can affect cognitive function the following day – tragically this may result in an increase in motor vehicle accidents (MVA) and workplace accidents.

Good sleep is crucial to safety

Given the impact of OSA on sleep quality and daytime sleepiness in Canada alone, it is not surprising that untreated patients with OSA experience an increased rate of motor vehicle accidents. In observational studies, patients with OSA had a 2-10 fold increased risk for collision compared with control.

In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 800,000 drivers are involved in OSA-related collisions per year, costing society $15.9 billion annually. Treatment of OSA mitigates these risks, with patients adherent to therapy experiencing a risk for MVA.

Some years ago I watched an early morning show in the UK. An American man who had been in an accident was being interviewed. His car had stopped on the UK motorway (highway) and he had not left his car and climbed over the safety barrier.

His car was struck from behind by a truck, his wife was killed outright, his son desperately hurt. The man had written a book describing his experience with rehabilitating his son daily for over four years.

Apparently, the truck had veered slowly onto the “hard shoulder” to the side of the driving lane, slowly crossing the lane markings. The broken down car was on the “hard shoulder”. The semi-trailer truck driver had been driving a long distance across Europe, he had been badly “shaken up” but was unhurt.

When the writer was asked what the moral of the story was, how it happened and what we could avoid such a tradegy in the future, he said, “we need better city direction signs in the UK because continental truck drivers can’t easily read the signs”.

What do you think?


Good sleep is crucial to good health and longevity.

Dr. Stephen Bray 2019

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