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Feds: Sleepiness Resulting from Untreated Sleep Apnea Caused Metro-North Train Derailment

train derailmentFederal regulators have determined that sleep deprivation resulting from undiagnosed sleep apnea and a drastic schedule change was the likely cause of a deadly Metro-North train derailment in December 2013 that left four dead and dozens injured.

According to WCVB Boston, engineer William Rockefeller admitted to feeling strangely dazed in the moments leading up to the crash. While the National Transportation Safety Board had reportedly been aware of Rockefeller’s sleep apnea for months, the Federal agency refrained from calling sleepiness the cause of the crash until Tuesday, October 28.

Metro-North currently has no policy in place to screen engineers for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, though spokesman Aaron Donovan has confirmed that the railroad is taking steps toward establishing a sleep apnea screening program.

As we’ve reported previously on this blog, excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the main symptoms of untreated sleep apnea, and puts people at risk of motor vehicle and work-related accidents. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that 23% of women and 16% of men experience this symptom.

Sleep apnea and the symptoms associated with it are highly treatable, but the problem is that up to 93% of women and 82% of men with moderate to severe sleep apnea remain undiagnosed. This means that Rockefeller and many others are missing out on effective treatments that can put an end to their daytime sleepiness and other symptoms.

To bring attention to the issue of excessive daytime sleepiness, Better Rest Solutions invites you to pledge to take a stand against drowsy driving. For every 10 people who pledge, we’ll donate $1 to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) in recognition of the organization’s annual Drowsy Driving Prevention campaign. Additionally, we’ll donate $5 to the NSF for every SoClean CPAP Cleaner and Sanitizer or SoClean 2 Go CPAP Cleaner and Sanitizer for Travel sold during the month of November.