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Journeys : April May 2010
The Access Economics report 'Wake up Australia: the value of healthy sleep' was the first attempt in the world to track the costs associated with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). According to one of the study's authors, Dr Ral Antic, sleep disorders and their impact on road safety are 'under- estimated, under-diagnosed and under- managed.' The Access study found that SDB had cost Australia the staggering amount of $10.3 billion in 2004 alone. Even more startling was the finding that only 2% of this amount was spent on treating the disorders themselves. The rest was spent on the effects of SDB, such as associated diseases, motor vehicle crashes and productivity losses. Another research project by Canadian Dr Najib Ayas demonstrated a five-fold increase in the risk of serious injury crashes involving drivers with obstr uctive sleep apnea (OSA) as opposed to un affected drivers. Obstr uctive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when an obstr uction in the upper airway stops the regular flow of breath. Adult OSA usually occurs because the tongue and soft tissue fall towards the back of the throat. The typical person with OSA is a middle- aged man, but that stereotype is changing. Many women and children are diagnosed with OSA. They have different symptoms from the classic adult male, but the condition is the same. Truck drivers are traditionally male and Sleep-disordered breathing and road safety over weight, putting them in a high risk group. Studies show that up to 55% of Australian tr uck drivers suffer from some sleep disorder. A recent testing program conducted by medical company ResMed at the large American tr ucking company Schneider put high-risk drivers onto a continuous positive air way pressure (CPAP) program. Six months later, the company found that crashes were dow n by 73% and there was a massive 91% reduction in hospital admissions. Schneider is now a model for the entire American tr ucking industry. The US Department of Transport is considering legislation to make testing mandatory for at-risk drivers in the tran sport industry. Volvo top of the class The R ACT was a foundation member of ANCAP -- the Australasian New Car Assessment Program. Our support helps to fund the crash-testing of new cars to determine their occupant safety. An analysis of the new vehicles crash-tested in 2009 showed that 33 out of 51 of the cars tested by ANCAP and its European equivalent, EuroNCAP, ear ned the ma ximum 5-star ratings for occupant safety, while 12 received four stars. Darren Moody, R ACT General Manager, Roadside and Technical Ser vices, says that one of the great lesson s from 2009 is that manufacturers are now making cars that are both safe and affordable. "A few years ago, ANCAP would discover a few safety gems in ter ms of car makes, but very often they were priced beyond the average buyer," he says. "It is good to see manufacturers responding to ANCAP and similar programs by getting serious about occupant safety. The R ACT always encourages consumers to look at the crash test results as part of their research into any new car purchase." Crash-testing involves impacts from different levels, as well as an assessment of pedestrian sur vivability. Mr Moody says that occupant safety in many commercial vans has also improved markedly in recent years. In last year's crash testing program, the Volvo XC60 received the highest occupant safety score of 36.53. At the other end of the spectr um, the Proton Jumbuck scored lowest with 8.39, and received a 1-star rating. Top 10 performers 2009 Class Model Star rating Score 4WD Volvo XC60 5 36.53 Small car Alfa Romeo Mito 5 36.10 Sports car Peugeot 308CC 5 35.87 Small car VW Golf 5 35.72 Small car Toyota Prius 3 5 35.24 4WD Audi Q5 5 35.21 Large/medium car Ford Mondeo 5 35.13 Small car Holden Cruze 5 35.04 Luxury car Mercedes E-Class 5 34.80 Large/medium car Subaru Liberty 5 34.80 This article includes excerpts from ResMed's Snooze Newz Issue 11 www.resmed.com For more information about sleep and respiratory issues, see your GP. The issue of sleep-disordered breathing and its effects on road safety was raised by Joe Rattray, a member of the RACT's North West Regional Advisory Committee. The three Regional Advisory Committees meet every two months to discuss local road safety, traffic and infrastructure issues. If you have an issue you would like raised at an Advisory Committee meeting in your region, please email Donna Sward, executive assistant in the RACT's Public Policy Department firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the RACT on 6232 6300. In our community 9 April / May 10
Feb March 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010