- Both the The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have withdrawn an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to require the testing of commercial truck drivers and train engineers for sleep apnea, according to the FMCSA, American Shipper reported Monday.
- In the years between 2001 and 2012, roughly 20% of the 182 major vehicle accident investigations carried out by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) identified fatigue as a probable cause, contributing factor, or a finding, according to the NTSB.
- Though approximately 22 million Americans struggle with sleep apnea, the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Associations (OOIDA) claims there is no sufficient evidence backing the necessity of the test. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Scumer (D-New York) has said he will continue to push the mandate through Congress.
Several regulations for truckers are up in the air at the moment, creating an air of uncertainty for many drivers. While the speed limiter rule is currently on indefinite hold, and the ELD mandate appears to be going forward, the removal of the sleep apnea test is no doubt a relief for truckers who fought against it.
In general, the test proved unpopular among drivers. According to the OOIDA, the FMCSA’s own studies have found that there is "no association between sleep apnea, as measured by the apnea/hypopnea index, and commercial motor vehicle crashes." It also notes that the test costs approximately $624, and that treatment could cost an individual anywhere from $116 to $5,500. Total industry costs could reach billions, the association added.
Yet the American Trucking Association (ATA) hasn't discounted the necessity of the test altogether. Suggesting that the issue should be addressed "through rulemaking and not through the publication of regulatory guidance" the group says it supports the process of investigation of the sleep disorder.