LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - John and Wanda Lindsay were the last car stopped in a three-mile line of traffic in a construction zone when an 18-wheeler with cruise control engaged at 65 miles per hour slammed into the back of their vehicle.
John was killed and Wanda was severely injured in the May 2010 accident. The truck driver was found to suffer from severe uncontrolled sleep apnea and believed to be asleep at the wheel.
Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. Sleep apnea, a disorder that leads to repeated pauses in breathing that disrupt sleep, is considered by some experts to be an unrecognized epidemic in America with ongoing, deadly consequences on the nation's highways.
The National Transportation Safety Board says drivers who are tired or asleep at the wheel are responsible for 31 to 41 percent of commercial vehicle crashes, resulting in 1,500 to 2,000 deaths per year.
To honor John's memory and prevent this tragedy from striking other families, Wanda is on a quest to raise public awareness about the danger of sleep apnea in commercial truck drivers.
She has testified before government panels and agencies on the issue, and she and her three children have created the John Lindsay Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to urging the commercial motor vehicle industry to establish and administer programs for their employees specifically to identify and treat sleep apnea.
Fourteen percent of truck drivers admitted they'd had a "near miss" due to sleepiness, according to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that 28 percent of truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea; one new survey found that obstructive sleep apnea affects more than 40 percent of commercial truck drivers.
That means that for every three 18-wheelers you see on our highways, one of them has a driver that suffers from sleep apnea, putting themselves and other motorists at risk.
Many commercial drivers exhibit alarming rates of key sleep apnea risk factors, with 36 percent being overweight, 50 percent obese and 49 percent smokers.
(Source: John Lindsay Foundation)