Sleep Apnea Screening for Truckers Stirs Debate

The country’s long haul truck drivers keep the wheels of industry, consumerism and the economy rolling. But nearly a third of all truckers are living with a sleep disorder that could impact their alertness, according to a University of Pennsylvania study cited by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. The FMCSA said it’s a potentially life-threatening condition that often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed. Risk factors for sleep apnea include family history, being overweight, large neck size and age.

While current government regulations do not specifically address sleep apnea, the FMCSA said a person with a history or clinical diagnosis of any condition likely to interfere with their ability to drive safely cannot be medically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.