Widow Raising Awareness About Sleep Apnoea Among Truck Drivers

What started as a simple road trip to Kentucky- USA ended in tragedy.  According to expert testimony, it was because a truck driver, suffering from sleep apnoea, caused a fatal crash. 

Kentucky natives Wanda and John Lindsay were headed to visit their son and granddaughter. After the crash, the family received a settlement from the trucking company, but Wanda quickly hit the road again, vowing her husband's death wouldn't be in vain. 

Traffic backups on the highway---it's something most drivers run into.

In May of 2010, it happened to Wanda Lindsay and her husband John as the two were headed to Carrollton, Kentucky to visit family.

"We just happened to be the last car stopped in a line of construction traffic about three miles long," Wanda remembered.

The couple was on Interstate 30 near Texarkana when a Celadon semi-driver plowed into them.

"He was traveling 65-miles-per-hour with his cruise control engaged," Wanda told WAVE 3 News, "We later discovered he had been diagnosed with severe uncontrolled obstructive sleep apnoea about two months before the collision." 

Wanda was hospitalised with multiple injuries.  John, a father of three and grandfather of five was killed.

Considered a first in the trucking industry, Celadon admitted the driver's sleep apnoea likely caused the accident that led to John's death. After paying legal fees and hospital bills with a $3.25 million settlement, much of the rest of the money is going into the John Lindsay Foundation. 

The family said John was all about helping people, whether it was taking a neighbor to a doctor or fixing that neighbor's lawn mower. So, the goal in John's memory: Waking people up when it comes to the problem of sleep apnea, especially in the trucking industry. 

Studies have found as many as 30 to 40 percent of commercial truck drivers have some form of sleep apnoea.

"Truck drivers can be treated and drive their equipment safely, " Wanda told us she found from her research. Apparently, more trucking companies are catching on too, like Schneider National. They've found investing in sleep apnea programs pays off, leading to fewer large crashes, a drop in medical costs and an increase in driver retention. 

Wanda said, "If we can do anything to keep one family from going through the devastation we've been through, that's what we're going to do." 

Wanda is touring the country and speaking with trucking industry officials. She spoke before the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in Washington D.C. in December. 

"This story sadly is not uncommon in the UK, we recently spoke with our local MP Megg Munn. She had a nephew of a constituent die in very similar circumstances on a UK motorway. It was discovered that the lorry driver that ploughed into the young mans car killing him, had Sleep Apnoea" says Matt  at S4S

"Megg is really working hard to put a bill through parliament to raise awareness of Sleep Apnoea amongst professional drivers. She hopes that the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) begin taking this issue seriously as a Health and Safety at Work issue. Most people don't know how simple it is to screen for signs and symptoms of Sleep Apnoea. We have an online free screening questionnaire, it should be compulsory that professional drivers are regularly screened."