Alert commercial drivers are an essential component of a safe transportation system, which includes business logistics strategies for the optimal distribution of goods and services. Yet, they are more likely to drive drowsy according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Drowsy drivers are less attentive. They have a slower reaction time, and a decreased ability to make decisions.
Trucking accidents are on the rise because most commercial drivers work long shifts, drive long distances, or suffer from sleep apnea. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults need 7 or 8 hours of sleep a day, while adolescents need 9 or 10 hours.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving.
Drivers who drive long distances and work long shifts should try to create a relaxing bedtime routine in an environment that is comfortable and cool, and blocks out all light and noise. They should also know the signs of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which occurs due to a blockage in the upper airway that interferes with the ability to breathe normally. OSA may contribute to tiredness, excessive daytime sleepiness, mood swings, memory loss, and problems concentrating while performing various routine activities.
If OSA symptoms are present, the driver may use the STOP questionnaire. It is a concise and easy-to-use screening tool that can identify patients with a high risk for OSA.
Four questions are answered respectively, related to snoring, tiredness during the daytime, observed apnea, and high blood pressure (STOP).
High risk for OSA is determined by answering yes to two or more questions. The driver should consider making an appointment with a board certified sleep specialist who will determine if a sleep study is necessary if there is a high risk for sleep apnea, which can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.
STOP Questionnaire for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Height: _________ inches Weight: _________ lbs
Age: _______ Male / Female Body Mass Index (BMI): _________
Collar size of shirt: S M L XL or _________ inches
Neck Circumference: _________ cm
The STOP test consists of four questions:
Do you snore loudly (louder than talking or loud enough to be heard through closed door)?
Do you often feel tired, fatigued or sleepy during the day?
Has anyone observed you stop breathing during your sleep?
- Blood Pressure
Do you have or are you being treated for high blood pressure?
High risk of OSA: answering yes to two or more questions
Low risk of OSA: answering yes to less than two questions
*Chung, F., Yegneswaran, B., Liao, P., Chung, S., Vairavanathan, S., Islam, S., Khajehdehi, A., Shapiro C. (2008). STOP questionnaire. A tool to screen patients for obstructive sleep apnea. Anesthesiology, 108 (5), 812-21.