- The government has announced a federal proposal to test truckers, bus drivers, and railroad workers for sleep apnea, which causes drivers to doze off on the road. More than 25 million Americans are believed to suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnea, according to The Washington Post.
- The proposal follows an unrelated study released last week by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, which found that 1/3 of drivers said they had trouble staying awake while driving within the past 30 days.
- The proposal has opened a 90-day comment period including fact-gathering sessions in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
This federal proposal may assist the waste industry in very important ways as officials strive to implement more safety initiatives, especially among truck drivers.
"Fall-asleep crashes are a big problem," Nate Watson, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, said to The Washington Post. He stated that the AAA Foundation estimates more than 300,000 crashes a year are due to drowsy driving, however a study of commercial drivers found a 73% reduction in accidents among those being treated for sleep apnea. He also said that 90% of people who suffer from sleep apnea are unaware that they have the disorder.
"A substantial number of drivers in our industry work at night, and are at risk for sleep apnea," said SWANA CEO David Biderman in an email to Waste Dive. "No sanitation department or waste hauler wants one of their drivers falling asleep at the wheel. SWANA looks forward to reviewing and commenting on the proposal."
Other proposed and implemented trucking regulations, such as the use of speed limiters, in-cab cameras, and seatbelt mandates, are being integrated in the industry to keep drivers safe. While some believe that new regulations may create a loss in productivity among drivers, they're proving to be important — like in a recent trucking accident that was caught on film by a in-cab DriveCam camera.