The dangers of getting behind the wheel after poor sleep are something that many people don’t think about until tragedy strikes. However, the consequences still exist and for truck drivers, the risky activity of drowsy driving has more of an opportunity to occur as fatigue seems to be quite common in their profession.
The National Transportation Safety Board says that 13% of accidents involving large trucks are linked to fatigue, with as many as 31% of accidents having fatigue be the suspect of the cause of the collision. Those numbers may seem low, but if you take into account that the most recent information from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in 2012, shows that 104,000 people were injured and 3,921 were killed in auto collisions that involved large trucks.
Entrepreneur, consultant and Harvard MD/MDA student, Shaan Gandhi with The Huffington Post suggests that instead of focusing on the amount of sleep truck drivers are getting, we should focus on their sleep quality and provide mobile health apps to drivers keep us all safe.
It’s no surprise to many of us that truck drivers aren’t known for being in the best health of their life. Gandhi really caught our attention when he shared the statistics of a recent study of more than 1,600 truck drivers. Published in the Journal of Industrial Medicine, the results showed that long distance commercial truck drivers are twice more likely to smoke and have diabetes compared to the national average. Also, 68.9% of truck drivers are obese, with 17.4% being morbidly obese, compared to the general population that is 30.5% obese and 7.3% morbidly obese. Back pain and psychiatric illness are also common, and a startling 18.3% of truck drivers admit that they’ve delayed getting health care or didn’t receive any at all.
Health problems are known to affect how we sleep, with obesity and a large neck size being major risk factors for the chronic sleep disorder, sleep apnea. According to Gandhi, the premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for employers and their drivers are up 70% more than the rest of population, which in turn affects all of our wallets as our goods are transported.
His mobile app idea would provide drivers with GPS locations of fitness centers, health clinics, health stores and directly allow drivers to communicate with sleep specialists. Drivers would also be able to learn about their sleep habits and exhaustion levels via the app and make improvements as they travel.
Drowsy driving is a major problem and more effort to raise awareness is being conducted. Truck companies have responded to the dangers by extending the break time for their drivers but, is that enough? Do you think Ghandi’s proposal is enough to cut back the drowsy driving of truck drivers?