Sleep Apnea Screening Rule Withdrawn by DOT

by | Aug 21, 2017

A proposed rule that would have required truck drivers to submit to screenings for sleep apnea has been withdrawn by the Department of Transportation. The rule faced fierce opposition from truck drivers and some members of the trucking industry. The rule would have offered clarification to carriers and medical examiners concerning when truck drivers should be referred for sleep apnea testing. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a notice on Aug. 4, 2017, announcing its withdrawal of the rule.

Rule Withdrawal

The FMCSA has been working on the sleep apnea rule protocol since 2016. It asked for input from the industry about when referrals should be made in its pre-rule notice. The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and the MRB recommended that truck drivers whose body mass indices exceeded 40 should be referred for sleep apnea testing. Truck drivers were overwhelmingly against the proposed rule because it would have required a large number of drivers to be tested because of age and weight requirements. The rule withdrawal also comes in an anti-regulatory environment under the current administration. Federal agencies have been asked to get rid of two regulations for every new one that is proposed.

Why the Sleep Apnea Rule Was Proposed

Untreated sleep apnea has been demonstrated to have a strong correlation with dangerous driving. In one study that was presented at the Sleep and Breathing Conference in Berlin on April 12, 2013, the researchers found that people who have sleep apnea are likelier to report falling asleep behind the wheel and to fail driving simulator tests. This study as well as others that demonstrate that drowsy and fatigued driving may be nearly as dangerous as drunk driving have long been a concern for safety experts. A truck accident lawyer sometimes handles injury cases involving truck drivers who fell asleep at the wheel.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which the muscles of the upper airway become so slack that the opening through which breathing occurs is cut off. This causes the sufferers to startle and wake slightly, and the pattern may repeat itself frequently throughout the night. Sleep apnea sufferers may thus get little quality sleep, making them drowsy during the daytime. A truck accident lawyer may investigate an accident to determine whether or not a driver had sleep apnea, causing the resulting injury accident. Doing so may help to prove the driver’s fault.