Sleep problems plague truckies
AN INQUEST into the death of a man killed in a crash with a B-double at Ulmarra could prompt a review of national testing guidelines for long-haul truck drivers.
Nathan Zanuso, 27, died following a head-on collision with a truck on the Pacific Hwy in February 2010.
The truck driver, Robert Pearce, who was found to have fallen asleep at the wheel and veered onto the wrong side of the road, escaped jail when a doctor gave evidence the 52-year-old suffered from a sleeping disorder.
Startling evidence given in the NSW Coroner's Court last week during an inquest into Mr Zanuso's death revealed Mr Pearce's condition was all too common.
Two sleep illness experts told the court almost 50% of truck drivers travelling the nation's highways suffered from sleep apnea.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Ron Grunstein said truck drivers exhibited many of the risk factors associated with sleep apnea in that they were commonly "middle-aged males who are often overweight and obese".
Dr Anup Desai agreed and called for better medical checks to be carried out on drivers before they were allowed to travel for long periods of time.
He said many drivers were reluctant to undergo testing for fear they may lose their jobs.
NSW Deputy State Coroner Mary Jerram will examine if a review of medical checks and testing guidelines for truckies could cut the risk of truck crashes.
She is expected to release her findings next month.