Sleep Apnoea, The Hidden Killer!


Last Wednesday leaders of Britain’s Car and Lorry Fleets met in Northampton in order to discuss the issue of sleep apnoea and its effects on driving, mostly how it causes many drives to fall asleep at the wheel with devastating consequences.

It is thought that around 700,000 British people suffer from sleep apnoea, this leads to 160 deaths per year which are caused by tired drivers. A sleep related medical disorder it is found to occur most commonly in individuals who are said to be overweight although this is not exclusive.

There is no excuse, falling asleep at the wheel contributes to a total of one fifth of the accidents on our motorways and other roads which are long and monotonous. The most likely people to fall asleep at the wheel are male, aged between 18-30 years old and driving late at night.

It has been said that the pressure of modern lifestyles can lead to preventing people from having adequate rest. Early morning starts, shift work, late night socialising are just a few factors which lead to tiredness.

Many drivers think that they will have a warning when they are tired and thus be able to pull over, however in reality there is no degree of warning! Changes in body rhythm mean that between midnight and 6am as well as 2pm and 4pm we are more likely to want to go to sleep.

Although sleep apnoea is a medical condition, there may be other reasons as to why you are tired. Both pre-scribed and over the counter medication can cause sleepiness; it is important that you check the label if you intend to drive and if you really are not sure then check with your doctor.

20% of our road accidents which occur on motorways happen as a direct result of motorists falling asleep. Drivers who run off the road, smash into the back of other vehicles are said to have been typically drivers who are tired. For every two hours driving you should plan a 15 minute break, next time you take the car out ask yourself if you are safe to be on the road? It the answer is no then leave the car at home and get another form of transport.

21st June 2011, 11:33