Sleep apnea and the risk of road accidents

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you probably experience fatigue, daytime drowsiness and a reduced level of alertness. All of these factors increase your risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Scientists have proven that people with sleep apnea have a significantly increased risk of car accidents.1

In the United States alone, it is estimated that 310,000 sleep apnea-related collisions occur per year, causing 1,400 fatalities and $15.9 billion in collision costs.2

Studies have also shown that the risks of driving while half asleep can be just as dangerous as when driving illegally under the influence of alcohol.3 Indeed, people who suffer from sleep apnea are more dangerous than drunk drivers.4

When patients are treated for sleep apnea, the risk of collisions due to sleep apnea is significantly decreased.5

If you display any symptoms of sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about getting proper treatment. ResMed can help you find a good night’s sleep and lower your risk of road accidents. Discover other benefits of treatment.


  1. Young T, Blustein J, Finn L, Palta M. Sleep-disordered breathing and motor vehicle accidents in a population-based sample of employed adults. Sleep 1997;20(8):608-13.

  2. Sassani A, Findley LJ, Kryger M, Goldlust E, George C, Davidson TM. Reducing motor-vehicle collisions, costs, and fatalities by treating obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Sleep 2004;27(3):453-8.

3: Powell NB, Schechtman KB, Riley RW, Li K, Troell R, Guilleminault C. The road to danger: the comparative risks of driving while sleepy. Laryngoscope 2001;111(5):887-93.

4: George CF, Boudreau AC, Smiley A. Simulated driving performance in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1996;154(1):175-81.

5: Findley L, Smith C, Hooper J, Dineen M, Suratt PM. Treatment with nasal CPAP decreases automobile accidents in patients with sleep apnea. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2000;161: 857-9.

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