Edited image of crash site from BBC News
In August 2006 my nephew Toby was killed by a truck whose driver, Colin Wrighton, an obstructive sleep apnoea sufferer, had "blacked out" (Wrighton's phrase) at the wheel. The crash-scene is above.
I wrote in Fortnightly Mailing about the issue in the years following the CPS decision not to prosecute Wrighton. Examples:
- March 2008 - Joined up government needed to prevent road deaths (after we submitted written evidence about sleep apnoea to Parliament's Transport Committee);
- August 2008 - Coroner calls for Government action on sleep apnoea (after representing my family at Toby's inquest);
- May 2009 - Finding and treating lorry drivers with sleep apnoea (after my MP Meg Munn gave an outstanding speech about sleep apnoea in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons).
Last week we launched the Four-week wait campaign for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome [22p PDF], an attempt to get renewed attention in the UK on the dangers of untreated obstructive sleep apnoea, and, in particular, to guarantee that vocational drivers can be treated for the condition within four weeks, thereby limiting or entirely eliminating the need for them to surrender their license and their livelihood following a diagnosis.
Today, Radio 4's iPM programme broadcast a 15 minute piece about OSA, featuring interviews from 2008 with my sister and brother in law (Toby's parents), and with Colin Wrighton; and a new, long and informative interview with Professor John Stradling, a sleep specialist who is closely involved in the four week wait campaign. Here is a recording of the interview [20MB MP3 file - you may need to "right click" and save the file locally in order to play it]. Or you should be able to stream it from the BBC's web site. I've also uploaded a five-page text transcript of the programme [23kB PDF].
If you want to help us achieve our objectives, write to your MP urging him or her to press the Department of Health, NICE, DVLA, and HSE to work together to ensure that vocational drivers diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea are given a cast iron guarantee to be treated within less than 4 weeks. Take particular note of the BBC's interview with John Stradling, when he talks about:
- the proportion of heavy goods vehicle drivers with OSA (~15%);
- the proportion of road accidents due to excessive daytime sleepiness (~20%);
- the extent to which, when an articulated lorry jackknifes, this is normally the consequence of the driver nodding off.