The father of Toby Tweddell, who was killed in a road accident in 2006, has spoken out on radio 5 live calling for all lorry drivers to be screened for sleep apnoea. The driver responsible for the accident also joined the call for action.
This tragic case demonstrates the fatal consequences of the lack of awareness of the condition, both within the medical profession, and by drivers themselves. It also shows that commercial drivers have nothing to fear from a positive diagnosis as the driver in this case was absolved of resposibility for the accident having been misdiagnosed. He is still driving today having been treated successfully.
The coroner of the case, and Toby’s parents both called for screening at the time of the killing, and five years later nothing has been done and road deaths due to sleep apnoea have continued. However, with the Corporate Manslaughter Act now in full force a similar case could now result in the driver’s employers being sued for negligence. Hopefully companies will now take action before this happens again.
The BBC reported at the time, “Mr Tweddell, 25, from Sale, Greater Manchester, was killed when a lorry driver ploughed into a queue of traffic on the M62 in Merseyside in 2006. Lorry driver Colin Wrighton had been suffering obstructive sleep apnoea. The 54-year-old’s condition had yet to be diagnosed but he had complained to his doctor about feeling tired four months before the accident. Tests had been run for diabetes, which came back negative.
“Mr Wrighton was initially charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence against him after his sleeping condition was revealed. In giving his narrative verdict, which was released as a statement, the coroner said: “It is my intention to prepare a Rule 43 Report to the Lord Chancellor concerning obstructive sleep apnoea in an endeavour to reduce the number of deaths that arise annually from this condition.”