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Sleep is a necessity for drivers

James Sauter

James Sauter

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Updated: August 2, 2013 6:34AM

The tragic death of Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter, who was killed in an accident when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, is a cautionary reminder of the danger of drowsy driving [“Trucker in crash that killed trooper fell asleep after working more than 14 hours: feds,” Thursday].

Each year, drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes and 1,550 deaths on our roads. To prevent drowsy driving among truckers, leaders in the transportation industry must create a new workplace culture that emphasizes the importance of sleep for health and safety.

This requires more than hours of service regulations. Trucking companies must educate employees about healthy sleep habits, train dispatchers and drivers to recognize the signs of fatigue, and schedule work shifts based on sleep need and circadian timing. They also should provide screenings for obstructive sleep apnea, a common sleep illness that can cause excessive sleepiness. It also is important to remember that all drivers have a responsibility to make our roads safer, especially as the 4th of July holiday approaches.

Make it a priority to get enough sleep each night, and pull off the road if you are struggling to stay awake. Sleep is a necessity, not an option.

M. Safwan Badr, M.D.,

American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Darien

Progress for women’s health care

Because of the cost, many women have sacrificed key prevention services like contraception, well-woman exams, and breast and cervical cancer screenings. This means costly emergency room visits and increases health care costs for everyone.

Starting this year, new insurance plans must cover key prevention services, like contraception, well-woman exams, and breast and cervical cancer screenings. This will save thousands of lives every year and bring down costs. Covering preventive care as basic health care, including family-planning services, contraception, and birth control, is important to good health care for women.

As a young woman, it is important to me to have access to preventive care and contraception. Although I’ve always had access to services, they have become easier and cheaper to access with the Affordable Care Act.

Thanks, ObamaCare!

Rebecca Haines, Evanston

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