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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Evaluation of Research on CMV Drivers with Moderate to Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea


To research the prevalence of sleep apnea, associated risk factors, and the impact of sleep apnea on performance measures relevant to the driving task.


Research indicates that driver drowsiness (i.e., fatigue) is a contributing factor in many crashes. Fatigue is known to decrease a driver’s attention level and reaction time. Fatigued drivers pay less attention to the driving environment and are less concerned with making errors, which decreases their likelihood of perceiving potential conflict situations.
One potential cause of driver drowsiness is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder. Those who suffer from OSA experience repeated and brief breathing interruptions while they sleep. Due to this disturbed sleep, a major symptom of OSA is excessive daytime sleepiness. In a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (2005), it was determined that 66 percent of OSA sufferers reported experiencing daytime sleepiness at least 3 days a week. Drivers with sleep apnea are seven times more likely to be involved in an automobile accident than those without sleep apnea (National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB], 2003). Drivers with undiagnosed OSA are not receiving proper treatment, leading them to make critical mistakes or even fall asleep while driving due to their fatigue.


The first phase of this study was to conduct a thorough literature review to respond to select questions in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)/Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding transportation operators with OSA. These responses provided support to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) rulemaking team. The rulemaking team was to determine if a second phase of this research was warranted based on the perceived gaps in the research literature, available data, and responses received from the general public.


Literature review with detailed responses to select questions in the FMCSA/FRA ANPRM on transportation operators with OSA.


FY 2016: $88,500

Current Status:


Project Manager:

For more information, contact Martin Walker of the Research Division at (202) 366-2364 or


MaineWay Services
Last updated: Friday, June 29, 2018