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Truck drivers are more prone to increased accidents as a result of excessive sleepiness and sleep-disordered breathing. A study of >2300 Australian truck drivers, reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (November 2004), found that 60% had sleep-disordered breathing and 16 percent had obstructive sleep apnea, compared with 24% and 4%, respectively, among the general population.
The study defined sleep-disordered breathing as 5 or more temporary breathing pauses per hour while sleeping. Sleep apnea was defined as 5 or more breathing pauses per hour plus a high score on a specialized sleepiness scale. With regard to the number of accidents associated with driving, the study showed that 35.5% of the truck drivers had a total of 1407 accidents in the previous 3 years. Furthermore, 48.3% had >1 accident during that time frame.