updated 10/20/2009 7:11:58 PM ET 2009-10-20T23:11:58

Federal safety investigators say sleep apnea is cropping up in transportation accidents. They want truck and bus drivers, commercial pilots, train engineers and merchant sailors to be screened for the disorder.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent letters Tuesday to the agency that regulates bus and truck safety and the U.S. Coast Guard citing accidents in which sleep apnea was a factor. The disorder causes pauses in breathing, which can interrupt sleep and increase fatigue.

The board cited a study that estimated 7 percent of adults have the disorder. The letters said accidents might be prevented through screening since people with sleep apnea often don’t know they have it.

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