Schneider National has published a white paper stating that its sleep-apnea screening and treatment program has generated a return on investment in the form of savings on medical costs, accident reduction, reduced turnover and increased productivity.

The report drew the following conclusions:

  • Among 348 drivers diagnosed with sleep disordered breathing (SDB) who were treated, medical costs accrued were slashed in half monthly.

  • There was a 73% reduction in preventable driving accidents among a group of 225 SDB-diagnosed drivers treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, which are essentially breathing masks that use air pressure to ensure airways remain open during sleep.

  • The driver retention rate of CPAP-treated individuals was 2.29 times greater than that of the total company driver population in 2004.

Wendy Sullivan, Schneider's occupational health manager, said that Schneider had long been investigating ways to cost-effectively diagnose and treat sleep apnea. In the past three years, the truckload giant has “recognized a trend in those medical records that sleep apnea had a lot to do with fatigue and hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.”

“With 15,000 drivers, we're scaling this effort and learning as we go,” Sullivan said. “With this sort of return on investment we decided that we're going to pay for the cost of this study and CPAP.”

According to a July 2002 study released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 28.1% of CDL holders have mild, moderate or severe sleep apnea. Recently, the American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the National Sleep Foundation offered a joint recommendation on how FMCSA should update its standards so that DOT medical examiners could more effectively screen for sleep apnea.