Industry leaders and policy makers meet at TruckWeek 2012 event

As part of its program for TruckWeek 2012, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) hosted a breakfast for politicians at Parliament House this week, highlighting the prevalence and potential danger of sleep disorders for Australia’s truck drivers.

The delegation met with political leaders including the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbot, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, and the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson.

At the breakfast, Australian researcher Lisa Sharwood revealed that over 40 per cent of Australian long distance truck drivers suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. However, the Epworth sleepiness scale currently used in driver medicals only picks up 12.2 per cent, leaving the majority of these apnoea sufferers undiagnosed and untreated.

ATA Chairman David Simon said TruckWeek was an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of this issue both within the trucking industry and with the policy makers in Parliament House.

“Sleep apnoea is a treatable condition, and many drivers wouldn’t even be aware they suffer from it. A sensible approach to sleep apnoea testing, treatment, and management will benefit businesses by creating safer drivers.”

According to Simon, it is essential that industry and policy makers work together to achieve a safe and professional trucking industry. “TruckWeek is an opportunity for us to meet with our federal politicians and discuss some of the issues the trucking industry faces as our freight task continues to increase,” David said.

“We’ve made great strides in safety, but there’s always more to be done. This is our opportunity to show Australia’s federal politicians how trucking delivers.”

Sleep apnoea is a condition where the soft tissues of the throat close or partially obstruct the airway whilst a person is asleep, preventing them from getting proper rest. This can then lead to daytime sleepiness, fatigue and poor reaction times, and can more than double their accident risk.

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