Federal regulators withdraw plan to test truckers for sleep disorder

August 29, 2017

Earlier this month, two federal agencies — the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) — ended their push for a rule that would have required sleep apnea testing for both truckers and train engineers.

This move has surprised many, especially since the two agencies originally wrote back in 2016 when the proposed rule was first published that undiagnosed or improperly treated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) "can cause unintended sleep episodes and resulting deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, and memory, thus reducing the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive duties."

If this statement is true, how can it be safe to have truckers behind the wheel that suffer from sleep apnea? The answer: it can't. Simply put, if truckers are falling asleep behind wheel, more trucking accidents are inevitable.

Many experts agree — this is a bad idea

According to an Associated Press report published in U.S. New & World Report, the decision to stop pushing the sleep apnea regulation is the latest step by the Trump Administration to slash federal regulations — a move the President believes will bolster economic growth.

However, several experts believe this recent move is a bad idea — particularly when it comes to public safety.

For instance, Sarah Fienberg, the form administrator of the FRA, was quoted in the recent AP report as saying, "It's very hard to argue that people aren't being put at risk. We cannot have someone who is in that condition operating either a train going 70 mph or operating a multi-ton truck traveling down the interstate. It's just not an appropriate level of risk to be exposing passengers and the traveling public to."

The National Transportation Safety Board added that it was disappointed that the two agencies decided not to push for this "much-needed rulemaking."