Dominican Republic ranks fourth in road accidents
Santo Domingo.- At the 7th Road Safety Forum 2023, a crucial issue was highlighted: 13% of heavy vehicle drivers in the Dominican Republic are at risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition, characterized by snoring and other breathing disorders during sleep, poses a serious risk for drivers, potentially leading to drowsiness on the road and increasing the likelihood of accidents. Additionally, OSA can lead to significant health complications like cardiovascular issues due to reduced oxygen levels in the body.
Nelson Martínez from the Ministry of Public Health’s Research Directorate revealed an ongoing study aiming to gather 424 samples from heavy vehicle drivers. This study is being conducted in various locations, including the National District, Santo Domingo Este, Santiago, and La Romana, from October 2023 to June 2024. Preliminary data from 124 forms indicates a higher risk among drivers in Santiago, with many working multiple shifts without rest.
The study also highlights the prevalence of obesity, a key risk factor for OSA, with 87.5% of drivers at risk of apnea being obese. Other concerning findings include high rates of hypertension, smoking, alcohol consumption, energy drink and coffee intake, and a lack of regular exercise among drivers. Alarmingly, 50% admitted to using their cell phones while driving, mainly for calls and voice notes.
Yocastia de Jesús, Director of Collective Health, provided additional context, noting the Dominican Republic’s high rate of road accidents, ranking fourth globally. The end of 2022 saw more than 100,000 injuries and nearly three thousand deaths, with motorcycle accidents being the most common. External factors like alcohol use and cell phone usage while driving were identified as major contributors.
De Jesús emphasized the importance of adhering to road safety rules, especially as the holiday season approaches. The youth population, particularly those between 15 and 26 years old, is most affected by these accidents. Julio Landrón, director of the Ney Arias Lora Traumatological Hospital, added that many victims of accidents suffer long-term complications or death months later, consuming significant medical resources.
Dr. Vhania Batista, national advisor on non-communicable diseases, risk factors, and mental health, stressed the importance of adequate sleep for drivers. She explained that lack of sleep affects cognitive functions and overall health, increasing the risk of diseases like diabetes and cancer. Batista highlighted the ideal sleep durations for different age groups and noted the negative impacts of sleep deprivation on brain activity, academic achievement, and hormone regulation.