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Inquest into fatal truck crash may prompt review

Evidence given in the NSW Coroner’s Court during an inquest into Nathan Zanuso’s death revealed Robert Pearce's sleep condition was all too common.
Evidence given in the NSW Coroner’s Court during an inquest into Nathan Zanuso’s death revealed Robert Pearce's sleep condition was all too common.

AN INQUEST into the death of a man killed in a crash with a B-double on the NSW north coast could prompt a review of national testing guidelines for long-haul truck drivers.

Nathan Zanuso, 27, died following a head-on collision with a truck at Ulmarra in February 2010.

The truck driver, Robert Pearce, who was found to have fallen asleep at the wheel and veering onto the wrong side of the road, escaped jail when a doctor gave evidence the 52-year-old suffered from a sleeping order.

Startling evidence given in the NSW Coroner's Court last week during an inquest into Mr Zanuso's death revealed Mr Pearce's condition was all too common.

Two sleep illness experts told the court almost 50% of truck drivers travelling the nation's highways suffered from sleep apnoea.

According to the Herald, Professor Ron Grunstein said truck drivers exhibited many of the risk factors associated with sleep apnoea in that they were commonly "middle-aged males who are often overweight and obese".

Dr Anup Desai agreed and called for better medical checks to be carried out on drivers before they were allowed to travel for long periods of time.

He said there was a "huge gap" in the testing process when it came to sleep assessments.

He also said many drivers were reluctant to undergo testing for fear they may lose their jobs.

NSW Deputy State Coroner Mary Jerram will now examine whether a review of medical checks and testing guidelines for truck drivers could reduce the risk of truck crashes.

She is expected to release her findings next month.

Topics:  fatal crash inquest nathan zanuso sleep apnoea truck drivers


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