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The impact of sleep apnea and driver safety and ability 

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2022 | Car Accidents

Sleep apnea is a condition that can affect people of all ages. While this is true, it’s commonly seen in the older population. 

Even though sleep apnea is a common disorder, those with it may be at a higher risk of accidents or other dangerous driving behaviors. 

The impact of sleep apnea on the body

Those with sleep apnea often wake up fatigued in the morning. It doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep they get: The condition causes them to stop and then restart breathing many times at night. For some people, this happens hundreds of times. This prevents them from getting the deep, restful sleep they need. 

What the research says 

Studies have shown that cases of chronic tiredness can be extremely dangerous when driving. It’s estimated that every eight times someone stops breathing per hour increases the possibility of dangerous driving actions by 27%. Dangerous actions include:

  • Accelerating suddenly
  • Braking hard
  • Speeding

Older adults are most likely to have sleep apnea, and this demographic is most likely to be seriously injured or even killed if involved in a car accident. 

Unfortunately, many older adults (30% to 50%) have mild cases of sleep apnea. This means they don’t experience any symptoms, including daytime sleepiness, which means that many cases are never treated. 

The increased dangers of sleep apnea for drivers

While older people are most likely to experience sleep apnea, it is a condition that can impact people of all ages. Anyone with this condition can experience the dangerous driving behaviors above. If you are involved in an accident with a driver who is confirmed to have sleep apnea, and their dangerous actions caused the collision, you have legal rights.