The Risks of Driving with Sleep Apnea

The Risks of Driving with Sleep Apnea

We are all aware of the inherent dangers that come along with driving a motor vehicle. Maintaining vigilance and awareness is one of the most important aspects of being a responsible and safe driver. An estimated one in every 25 drivers over the age of 18 has reported having fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days alone. Even if you believe you received a full eight hours of sleep the night before, it is extremely probable that you are still driving while tired. This is true even if getting behind the wheel after a night of poor sleep is risky for you.

Obstructive sleep apnea is recognized as one of the most significant contributors to excessive daytime tiredness. However, because it is believed that around 80% of OSA cases go untreated, people who suffer from the illness may be unaware that their exhaustion is the consequence of a condition that may be treated in a relatively straightforward manner. In point of fact, the findings of a recent study discovered that those who suffer from sleep apnea had nearly a 2.5-fold increased risk of being the driver in an automobile accident when compared with a control group of drivers who were drawn from the general population.

When therapy is administered in the form of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or automatic positive airway pressure (AutoPAP), fortunately, sleep apnea is a problem that can be easily controlled. If you don’t get treatment, you run the chance of being a victim of the following extreme driving risks: decreased ability to focus on the road, slowed reaction time, and decreased ability to make sound decisions. Visit to read about Top-Rated Full-Face CPAP Masks for Mouth Breathers.

When you choose to go behind the wheel when fatigued, you put yourself in danger of experiencing all three of these very real dangers. Insomnia makes it more difficult to maintain the essential level of concentration on the roadway in front of you. You will be unable to accurately judge the actions of the vehicles in front of and behind you, you will have a decreased awareness of your surroundings (such as pedestrians); and you will be more easily distracted by the radio or even by your own thoughts.

Second, because driving needs you to be ready for the unexpected, slower response times significantly increase the probability that you will be involved in an accident. When you are driving in a residential neighborhood, having a fast response time gives you the ability to rapidly avert disasters, such as striking children or animals that have ran into the road. Your ability to respond quickly can also provide you an advantage in avoiding collisions with other vehicles on the road, which may also be adjusting their behaviour in response to unexpected occurrences. You need to be ready to react swiftly in the event that other vehicles respond to an occurrence by slamming on their brakes. By doing so, you can prevent a subsequent collision that would be your fault if it occurred.

All of these dangers may be summed up by the ultimate risk of having bad decision-making abilities when driving, which includes both poor judgments made before getting behind the wheel and poor decisions made while behind the wheel.

This study shows extremely good evidence that people with obstructive sleep apnea have an elevated chance of being involved in a traffic accident and that this risk may be decreased if effective CPAP therapy is administered.

Warning Signs of Exhaustion

You need to be aware of these indicators of exhaustion and sleepiness while you are getting ready to drive, or possibly even when you are already on the road.

  • You pass an exit.
  • You drift in and out of your lane.
  • You yawn or blink frequently.
  • You hit a rumble strip on the roadside.
  • You have trouble remembering or recalling the last few miles you drove.
  • You hit a rumble strip on the roadside.
  • You have difficulty remembering or recalling the last few miles you drove

It is vital that you get off the road as quickly as possible if you discover that you are displaying any of these indicators, especially if you are driving. If you feel that you need to, you should pull over to the side of the road, lie down, and get some rest until you are alert enough to continue driving safely.

Risks to CDL Drivers

Truck drivers and other CDL drivers, such as those who operate tow trucks, tractor-trailers, and buses, are responsible for transporting huge vehicles over the highway; thus, the consequences of driving while sleepy pose an even greater risk to them than they do to the typical driver on the road. It has been demonstrated that truck drivers are at an elevated risk for developing sleep apnea. Furthermore, the nature of their employment makes it very necessary for them to acquire sufficient amounts of high-quality sleep, both for their personal safety and the safety of others around them on the road. This is particularly important to keep in mind given that truck drivers spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel, both during the day and during the night. Click here to read about The physical and mental health of Australian truck drivers: a national cross-sectional study.

Trucking businesses should make sure that their CDL personnel are subjected to regular medical tests, including home sleep studies, in the event that there is any possible danger of untreated problems, such as sleep apnea, that might affect their ability to drive safely.

Investigating Possible Cases of Sleep Apnea

Naturally, it is possible to eliminate all of the dangers that come with driving when sleepy or exhausted. As long as they are able to obtain the right therapies that result in restorative sleep, there is no need for anyone to put themselves or others in danger. If you think that you could have sleep apnea symptoms, you should obtain a sleep study to find out for sure.

This will provide you with all of the information you want. People who believe they have this condition may want to consider taking a sleep test at home rather than going to an expensive sleep lab because it is possible to get accurate results more quickly and in the convenience of one’s own home rather than forking over the money required for an in-lab sleep study. Sleep apnea is a disorder that may be treated well, however, the treatment does require a prescription. Eliminate the dangers that come with driving while sleepy and make it a priority to obtain the amount of high-quality sleep that each of us needs to maintain our health. This is a goal that we can all get behind.