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Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

THE SILENT KILLER BEHIND THE WHEEL

In Uncategorized on 14 September 2011 at 12:27

If you are finding it difficult to stay awake during daylight hours you could be suffering from a common, & potentially dangerous, sleep disorder, but this can be cured by a simple treatment.

The following article in a slightly revised form was written for The Mover – the independent voice of the global moving industry

Although British truck drivers are regarded to be amongst the safest on the road there have been several fatal accidents involving heavy goods vehicles that have been attributed to drivers falling asleep at the wheel . In July 2006 a family of four were killed on the A34 near Bicester when a 30-tonne truck ran into a line of stationary traffic during the afternoon rush hour. The driver of the truck had been awake since 0430 and had started driving at 0700. He was found guilty of four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and sent to prison for three years and nine months. During his trial he told the court “something catastrophic” had occurred but he did not know what. Without knowing it, this driver had momentarily fallen asleep.

A few months later, a young car driver was killed on the M62 near Liverpool caused by another HGV driver who had fallen asleep. The victim’s family discovered a year later that there had been four other similar accidents in a period of four months from October 2007 involving HGV drivers that had resulted in the deaths of nine people.  After coming to terms with the dreadful events that had left the young man dead, during August 2008 the driver responsible, Colin Wrighton, began campaigning to raise awareness of the condition that had caused him to fall asleep.  On 25 July 2011 Mr Wrighton bravely spoke of his concern on the BBC Radio 2 ‘Jeremy Vine Show’.

The causes of these two major accidents could easily have been avoided had they been diagnosed correctly and were attributed to a condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea. This is a significant disorder that affects more than one in 50 adults, but is more prevalent in middle-aged men who are obese. In 2005 the BBC Real Story programme suggested that 41 per cent of HGV drivers have a sleep disorder of some form with one in six of them requiring urgent treatment for sleep apnoea, although most are unaware of that they are sufferers. The condition is characterised by heavy snoring that leads to acute sleep disturbances that causes fatigue and sleepiness during the day. The British Sleep Foundation (BSF) considers lorry drivers to be particularly at risk because they are often overweight because of the their sedentary working conditions, have unhealthy high-fat diets and work unsocial hours.  One survey showed that 38 per cent of lorry drivers had a body mass index of between 25 and 30 and more than 50 per cent were regarded as obese with a body mass index over 30. Experts estimated that 80,000 of a workforce of half a million truck drivers may be suffering from sleep apnoea without knowing it. This is a frightening thought but HGV drivers are not alone and sleep apnoea also affects train drivers, airline pilots and motorists who are equally putting their lives and the lives of others at serious risk. Read the rest of this entry »

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How a Meccano Set Became the Mother of Invention

In Business, Government, Ideas, International Trade, Invention, Social History, Trading, Trevor Baylis on 4 September 2011 at 13:39

“Achievement is more important than qualifications.”

Bob Bluffield meets the inventor Trevor Baylis

The most obscure things can often shape our futures and for Trevor Baylis it was the fortuitous discovery of a deluxe box of Meccano on a rubbish tip while foraging for scrap metal as a young boy in wartime west London. By adding the wide range of pieces to the cherished basic set his father had bought him presented him with the opportunity to extend his creativity. By his own admission, Trevor was not in the least bit academic. He considers that “achievement is more important than qualifications” – a policy he has adhered to throughout his long career without causing himself any undue harm, even though he couldn’t have thought this when he and his mates took every opportunity to bunk off junior school. Instead of class work they preferred to pursue more boyish adventures and during the Blitz there was plenty of opportunity to do just that. They collected shrapnel from the enemy raids of the previous night and bits of scrap that could be sold for smelting to aid the war effort. When they weren’t scavenging, Trevor and his friends were preoccupied with swimming even though this was in the foul smelling effluent water of the nearby Grand Union Canal. After discovering he had a natural ability to float, Trevor became a first class swimmer and by the age of fifteen represented Great Britain, but became disappointed when he missed out on a place in the 1958 Olympics.  When the time came to leave school, Trevor claims he could barely read and write but was offered a job at a soil mechanics laboratory where he had the opportunity to study mechanical and structural engineering on part-time day release.

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