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Expert: Overweight truckers should be screened for sleep apnea

PHOENIX -- The FAA is now requiring overweight pilots and air traffic controllers to be checked for sleep apnea before they can be medically certified to work.

Patty Day with Valley Sleep Center said it's time to do the same for long-haul truckers because sleep apnea and obesity go hand-in-hand.

"Put yourself in the other car. The big-rig driver generally will walk away from the accident. I want anybody driving with that much weight behind them to be alert and awake. It would benefit the drivers' health in the long run and benefit the company that's paying for health insurance and dealing with claims they have against them."

The FAA requires pilots and air traffic controllers with a body mass index over 40 to see a sleep expert. Day said it should be an index of 35 for truckers. Currently, there's no requirement for truckers and many are now coming into her office on their own.

"It scares me to think there are drivers out there who could be falling asleep behind the wheel."

BMI calculates weight divided by height. For example, a 6-foot tall man with a BMI of 40 would weigh nearly 300 pounds.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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