Drivers who do not pull off the road when they feel sleepy and drowsy place themselves and everyone else on the road at serious risk. Of particular concern are drivers who suffer from “sleep apnea,” the sleeping disorder that is often characterized by heavy snoring and long pauses in breathing. As a result of disrupted sleep, those suffering from sleep apnea experience daytime drowsiness, which has been linked with increased risk of vehicle crashes and near-misses. Among a sample of people attending sleep clinics, men who scored high for sleepiness reported about 25 percent more motor vehicle accidents and nearly five-fold more near-misses than those scoring in the normal range. This is a serious issue that warrants treatment.
NOTE: Untreated obstructive sleep apnea patients had a crash rate three times greater than that of the general population. They also have a higher risk of heart attack.