Things are seldom as simple as they initally seem
I assume that you are talking about the actual petition rather than pasting
the link :-)
1) There are no indicators of sleep apnoea that don't require the suffer to
volunteer the information
2) Even with treatment an HGV driver suffer is likely to lose his license.
The driver is in a lose-lose here, why should he report the problem if it is
dead easy to claim that he didn't realise?
"A person with OSA will usually have no memory of breathlessness, so
they are often unaware that they are not getting a proper night's
sleep." AIUI a diagnosis often starts with a partner reporting symptoms
such as interrupted breathing and frequent waking. So does that mean no
driving an HGV if sleeping alone?
I mean the political position that lies behind this petition.
First sleep apnea testing is done with drugs that are counterindicated
for a number of truck drivers, so that would remove a number of
healthy able truckers as well. Second, truckers have a relatively good
safety record on the road, they really arent the main problem area.
3rd there are lots of people with lots of risk factors out there
driving, but these risk factors cause a lot less accidents than the
nut behind the wheel. You'd do far better in reducing mortality by
spending money on advanced driver training courses rather than apnea
When you look at the pros and cons of letting most people drive versus
requiring a vast battery of health tests and ruling half the
population out, the end result is better when most can drive. Driving
kills a lot of people, of that there's no doubt. Now imagine what
would happen to the economy if 50% of drivers were taken off the road
due to risk factors. The result is we wouldnt be able to afford the
NHS services we can today, the healthy food we can today, and numerous
other things that reduce deaths. The idea that we can and should live
in a safe society that doesnt kill anyone is certainly appealing in
principle, but is unfortunately still a fantasy in the economics of
?? My wife was tested prior to an operation by simply wearing a SPO2
monitor for one night as she slept.
A better diagnosis such as that might be required for medico-legal
purposes could have been done in a sleep lab including a bedroom
monitored with CCTV equipped with a lot of instrumentation.
But as for regular testing of all truck drivers ...
Possibly but they do seem to figure significantly in those very
serious accidents we see on the motorways at Ca. 5-oo am. A slightly
different problem, I know.
There is a simple questionaire that can flag up a tendency to sleep
apnea. However already the DVLA will pull the licence of anyone who is
suspected of suffering from S.A. (even self declared) until such time
as a doctor says their S.A. is under control.
Note that the airlines changed the rules so that pilots could at least
declare their own concerns about their own health without fear of
So if nobody can diagnose the condition, how come the driver can use it
as grounds to escape prosecution?
I guess this is probably all to do with insurance. Since the final bill
will run into millions, the lawyers will be pulling whatever strokes
they can to pass the buck.
AIUI you diagnose the condition by going to the doctor and reporting the
But as the symptoms are (normally) fairly benign you don't know that you
might be a suffer, so you don't go to the doctor.
But if you have an accident that might result in prosecution, chances are
the doctor will come to you and ask.
It may be more effective to lobby the Freight Transport Association, who
are the trade body responsible for road transport.
Sleep apnoea is a known problem, but hard to diagnose without tests that
are too expensive to use for screening, though a sleeping partner could
probably tell you....
This is yet another example of someone who has suffered a loss trying to
enact specific legislation to prevent this happening again.
Understandable, evinces sympathy, but may not be a good use of time and
The suggestion is far too specific.
I see no cost benefit analysis included.
http://www.britishsnoring.co.uk/hgv_drivers_and_sleep_apnoea.php it seems
that there are about 120 fatalities a year due to sleep related accidents
However this does not state that those 120 accidents were all caused by an
HGV driver falling asleep - fatalities could have been caused by a non-HGV
driver falling asleep and hitting an HGV.
It is reasonable to assume that if a car hits an HGV there is a higher
likelyhood of a fatality than if the car hit another car or just left the
Additionally, it does not give a percentage of the overall accidents which
were caused by sleep apnea because this is generally an undiagnosed
If we assume that even 25% of those accidents (and this could be an order of
magnitude out) were cause by sleep apnea suffered by an HGV driver rather
than other causes of tiredness then that is 30 fatal accidents a year.
Or, using the 2007 figure of 2538 fatal accidents in total, 1.2% of fatal
accidents - or it could be 3 accidents/0.12% or lower.
So extending the HGV driver medical testing for another condition may save
few if any lives.
A few suggestions:
(1) Newer cars are starting to include detection devices which warn when the
driver is thought to be losing alertness and possibly falling asleep.
Inclusion of these in HGV cabs (assuming that they are proved effective) is
far more broad reaching than medical screening for one specific complaint
and could potentially make HGV driving safer. Again, this should be subject
to a cost benefit analysis.
(2) Look for the highest causes of driving fatalities. Discount drunkeness,
drug abuse and excessive speed (which are already being addressed/ignored)
and look for any medical condition which has a higher impact than sleep
(3) If you really want to improve road safety in terms of medical fitness of
the drivers then extend the medical testing currently required for HGV
drivers to the general population. This will pick up, for example, all those
diabetics who are insulin users with poor hypo control who haven't declared
it because they know they will have to give up driving, and likewise all
those with serious heart conditions who are not declaring them for the same
reason. Also all those with poor eyesight. Also....... One upside of this
strategy would be the potential increase in early diagnosis of things such
as heart problems, poor sight and diabetes.
(4) Make sure that all non-UK licence holders have to provide evidence of
suitable medical screening before being allowed to drive in the UK (either
bringing in vehicles or hiring vehicles here).
I note also that this is a UK-centric petition.
The target should be EU legislation given the number of HGV drivers from
other parts of the EU who drive on UK roads.
Again, sympathy for the loss but there needs to be a lot more evidence of a
major problem before scarce resources are channeled into this specific area.
suggests that the most effective way to reduce road deaths is to improve the
safety of the roads where the majority of accidents occur.
Of course, this could just be a pressure group for road builders!
Finally, as there is a finite pot of money should this take precedence for
example over additional funding for anti-cancer and similar drugs to try and
reduce the post code lottery which currently exists in some areas.
No plan survives contact with the enemy.
[Not even bunny]
You're right of course.
The elephant in the room is that this condition is obviously being used
as a loophole to avoid the death by dangerous driving charge. Hopefully
the petition is a round about way of asking for the whole issue to be
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