Although truckers must get a medical exam at least once every two years to qualify for their commercial driver’s license (CDL), many choose their own doctors who might overlook signs of sleep apnea, like obesity. Doctors writing federal transportation policy believe that up to 40% of professional drivers are significantly overweight. Obesity correlates with sleep apnea which leads to the root problem – driver fatigue, a factor in 13% of commercial truck accidents, according to a federal study.
While it’s easy to understand how truckers can add unnecessary pounds given the sedentary nature of their job, Dr. Maggie Gunnels, one of the doctors on the panel re-writing the health regulations for truckers, sums up the tougher health regs best: “It’s safer for [the truckers] and it’s safer for the American public who travel.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration begins a review of the panel’s recommendations soon. Will the panel get what it seeks: a registered pool of approved health screeners and a systematic screening for sleep apnea for commercial truck drivers? The Erie truck accident lawyers at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. will monitor the matter and report on it here. Stay tuned.