Long-haul truck drivers work an incredible number of hours, upwards of 11-hours per session or 14-hours in a single day. With so much of their time taken up by driving, there are a lot of concerns as to whether truck drivers are getting enough sleep, especially since many have serious sleeping disorders.
The Scope of the Problem
According to a 2018 study, nearly 1-in-4 commercial truck drivers have some kind of sleeping disorder. Many report insomnia and claim they are unable to sleep more than 6 hours per night before working 11-hour shifts.
More specifically, a study supported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that nearly 1-in-3 truck drivers experience moderate to severe sleep apnea, which can potentially be life-threatening.
Why So Many?
A large part of sleep apnea issues comes from truck driver weight. Physical weight and neck measurements are two of the biggest predictors of sleep apnea in truck drivers, according to a report by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. According to their findings, truck drivers are about 6x more likely to have sleep apnea than the general population.
Another contributing factor is drug use, particularly narcotics. According to that same 2018 study analyzing truck driver sleeping patterns and mental health, substance abuse is a huge contributing factor in both sleep deprivation and declining mental health. And the data supports this as truck driver drug violations have increased dramatically over the past few years.
It’s clear that something needs to change in the trucking industry. Truck drivers consistently report poor mental health and sleeping patterns, yet they are behind the wheel for nearly all of their waking hours. Moreover, life-threatening sleep apnea is becoming increasingly common potentially as a direct consequence of the sedentary lifestyle that comes with truck driving.
Simply put, the more truck drivers are sleep deprived, the more likely they are to fall asleep and the wheel and potentially cause a fatal crash.
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