Sun, Aug 26, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Study finds snorers have higher risk of accidents

PROACTIVE Sleep experts called upon those who snore and also suffer from daytime drowsiness to see their doctor, as they could face danger while driving

By Hung Su-chin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The often overlooked problem of snoring could prove deadly on the roads, research conducted by the Council of Labor Affairs' Institute of Occupational Safety and Health shows.

A study targeting professional drivers above the age of 40 found that those who snore are more than twice as likely to become involved in a traffic accident than those who do not snore.

The study also found that one in five older drivers reported snoring.

In response to the study, sleep experts called upon those who snore and suffer from daytime drowsiness to see their doctor, as they could be at increased risk of accidents on the road.

Hsu Jin-huei (徐儆暉), a researcher with the institute, said that 306 drivers above the age of 40 participated in the study.

"Known risk-factors such as long shifts and a history of traffic violations showed up in our study too," he said. "But the influence of snoring on traffic accidents should not be underestimated."

Snorers who drive small passenger vehicles are more than 2.33 times more likely to have an accident than non-snorers, while snorers who drive larger buses are 2.18 times more likely to get in an accident, Hsu's research showed.

Chang Gung Hospital's sleep center's chief physician Chen Ning-hung (陳濘宏) said the results of similar studies conducted abroad have established even stronger links between snoring and vehicle accidents.

In a 1999 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, snorers were six times more likely to have a traffic accident than the average driver, he said.

"The reason snoring appears to affect road safety is because snoring is associated with sleep apnea, which in turn affects a person's concentration during the day," he said.

One in four snorers suffer from sleep apnea, he said, but most sufferers of sleep apnea are unaware that they suffer from the condition.

Around 22 percent of the drivers in the institute's study reported snoring, yet only 0.3 percent said that they suffered from sleep apnea.

"Advanced countries including the US are very aware of the sleep apnea problem and have safety regulations to deal with the issue," Chen said. "But in this country, we have not addressed this risk at all."

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