Sleep on the agenda as part of TruckWeek 2012

Industry and sleep associations join forces to highlight the prevalence and dangers of sleep disorders in truck drivers

August 23, 2012

Australia’s leading sleep associations and the trucking industry are using TruckWeek 2012 to highlight the dangers of sleep disorders and to encourage drivers to pay close attention to fatigue.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) today hosted a breakfast for politicians in Canberra as part of the annual TruckWeek event, which promotes the industry.

Researcher Lisa Sharwood told breakfast attendees more than 40 pecent of long-distance truck drivers suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea but the majority of sufferers go undiagnosed and untreated.

Sleep apnoea prevents a person from getting proper rest, leading to daytime sleepiness, fatigue and poor reaction times.

"Sleep apnoea is a treatable condition, and many drivers wouldn’t even be aware they suffer from it," ATA Chairman David Simon says.

"A sensible approach to sleep apnoea testing, treatment, and management will benefit businesses by creating safer drivers. Drivers will benefit too, with healthier, less fatigued lives, extended driving careers and a greater life expectancy."

The Australasian Sleep Association and the Sleep Health Foundation are encouraging drivers to learn more about common sleep conditions and to make sleep a priority when off duty.

"A workplace can be considered best practice but fatigue related accidents will still occur if drivers don’t get adequate sleep before they start a shift," Sleep Health Foundation Chair Dr David Hillman says.

"Sleep should be seen as a priority. It is essential for safety and well-being that truck drivers obtain sufficient sleep away from work in order to perform at their optimum when on duty."

Australasian Sleep Association President Shantha Rajaratnam says policies aimed at hours of service, rest breaks and medical checks will improve the health and safety of truck drivers.

"These strategies will make the workplace safer and more productive and our roads a safer place to drive," Rajaratnam says.

The Australasian Sleep Association recently established a working group to investigate the impact of shift work, sleepiness and sleep disorders on driving performance, health and daytime functioning.

"A better understanding of the influence of fatigue and sleep disorders on driving safety will help us to develop strategies that will make the industry even safer," Howard, who heads the working group, says.

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