Cranwell & Moore P.L.C., Attorneys at Law

Sleep apnea to be studied in truck drivers

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There are numerous regulations and requirements for truck drivers regarding rest breaks and sleep requirements, all with the goal of preventing dangerous truck accidents. Interestingly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are now trying to research additional safety measures to address the condition of obstructive sleep apnea in truck drivers.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, obstructive sleep apnea affects more than 20 percent of commercial truck drivers. Commonly, those with sleep apnea will be excessively sleepy in the daytime, which may ultimately result in a Virginia truck driver who is drowsy in transit.

The FMCSA and FRA are allowing for a 90 day public input period to begin in mid-March to address the evaluation, screening and treatment of commercial drivers who have obstructive sleep apnea. Additionally, there will be public listening sessions in which people can provide input regarding whether the agencies should have specific requirements for obstructive sleep apnea. This anticipated review process follows a recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for the U.S. Department of Transportation to address obstructive sleep apnea screening in commercial drivers as part of an overall goal for safety improvement.

There appears to be good reason to study sleep apnea in truck drivers. One incident investigated by the NTSB revealed that a truck driver who caused a deadly work zone accident had obstructive sleep apnea, but had not reported such condition when obtaining his medical certification. Truck driver fatigue poses real risk for accidents.

Through this review process the FMCSA and FRA are seeking to learn more about how common obstructive sleep apnea is in truck drivers and other commercial drivers. Hopefully with more knowledge and regulation will come increased safety for all drivers on the roads.

Source: fleetowner.com, "FMCSA takes 'first step' to sleep apnea rule," Kevin Jones, March 9, 2016

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