Here is the bad news first. Irish road safety experts warn that people who suffer from sleep apnea are seven times more likely to fall asleep at the wheel while driving.
But here is the good news too. In the words of Prof Walter McNicholas, director of the pulmonary and sleep disorders unit at St Vincent’s University Hospital, “When treated effectively, sleep apnea is incredibly manageable, so awareness of the signs and early diagnosis is key.”
146 people were reported killed on Ireland’s roads so far this year. According to The Road Safety Authority (RSA), statistics reveal fatigue and excessive sleepiness as a factor in one- fifth of all collisions. In their 2013 survey of driver attitudes and behavior as many as one in 10 Irish motorists admitted to have fallen asleep at the wheel at some point.
“Untreated sleep apnea is associated with high levels of sleepiness, which makes driving incredibly dangerous,” says Prof McNicholas. In a presentation at the RSA annual safety lecture, the professor cautioned that short rests should not be seen as a cure for tiredness, but as a temporary relief. A 15 to 20-minute sleep will only revive a driver for up to an hour, he said.
Motorists are being educated on the impact of tiredness on the risk of collisions.
“If we have learned anything from the previous few years, it’s that we can all make real changes to improve road safety,” exhorts Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe. “So this week, consider what you can do to make our roads safe.”
Source: Irish Times