Doctors urged to help prevent drowsy driving and fatigue-related crashes. News from the world of sleep medicine--that can affect your health and well-being. What you can do for your own health and safety.
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Doctors urged to help prevent drowsy driving and fatigue-related crashes
News from the world of sleep medicine--that can affect your health and well-being.
Tired drivers cause crashes
The American Medical Association (AMA) urged doctors to begin to take an active role in reducing fatigue-related crashes.
At least four percent (4%) of crashes may be caused by drowsy drivers, based on estimates by the National Highway Transportation Safey Administration.
People with erratic sleep patterns are at special risk for drowsy driving--such as young drivers, shift workers, and commercial truck drivers.
People with sleep disorders that have not been treated are also at risk. Obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and chronic insomnia affect 30 to 40 million Americans, putting them at risk for drowsy driving.
The AMA report (by their Council on Scientific Affairs in the June 17th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association) recommends further study into sleep disorders in the population and among drivers, sleep-related crashes, and how drivers can avoid crashes caused by fatigue.
Dr. Kingman Strohl, a sleep disorders researcher at Case Western Reserve University, participated in the AMA report. He underlined that sleep loss can have serious effects on personal health and on society, and welcomed the AMA call for education of the public and physicians.
Sleep researchers have warned about the connection between fatigue and crashes (they don't consider them accidental!) for several years. Unfortunately, the medical community as well as the public have not been aware of advances in sleep disorders. Now, however, the AMA may be able to bring this to the awareness of physicians. At the same time, each individual who drives should be aware of the risk of driving while drowsy. See: Jerry asks, What can you do?Sleep professionals are discussing the need to educate the public as well as doctors about the dangers of drowsy driving--at the 12th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in New Orleans from June 18 through 21, 1998
Find out if you have a sleep problem. If you do or suspect you do, don't drive a vehicle until you have your sleep professionally evaluated and treated!
Do you snore? Are you tired? Find out if you have sleep apnea.
Take a short quiz that can help point to symptoms and signs that may be caused by obstructive sleep apnea--a very common sleep disorder that can readily be treated.
As someone who has sleep apnea, I know the difference between untreated apnea and treated. I can tell you from personal experience that when your brain wants to go to sleep, you'll go to sleep without warning. If you have severe untreated apnea (or one of the other common sleep disorders) you can fall asleep at any time. If you're driving, this can mean a tragic outcome. Successful treatment can bring your life--and driving safety--back to normal.
If you have severe sleep apnea or some other problem that causes you to feel drowsy, to fall asleep, or makes it hard for you to stay alert---see your doctor or qualified sleep disorders specialist.
Don't drive until you have been diagnosed, treated, and can stay alert while driving. Please.
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