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Pushing the FMCSA for sleep apnea screening rules

Obstructive sleep apnea leads to poor sleep during the night and drowsiness during the day, which makes it a particularly dangerous condition for truck drivers. Accidents in Illinois and throughout the U.S. can be attributed to undiagnosed OSA.

In 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was developing a rule to help doctors judge if truck drivers should be tested for sleep apnea. The Medical Advisory Board was called in for advice, as were several trucking industry stakeholders, but in the summer of 2017 the FMCSA stated that it would table the rule.

This has led to two bills in the Senate and the House of Representatives pressing the FMCSA to once again formulate screening and treatment rules for sleep apnea. The Senate bill was sponsored by two Democrats, and the House bill by a Republican and a Democrat.

Supporters of the bills argue that not only doctors but also truck drivers and their employers should have clear criteria to follow for OSA testing. They also point to the confusion caused by multiple sets of screening protocols: confusion that has led to truck drivers complaining about unwarranted referrals. Many drivers suspect that doctors, sleep apnea testing companies and treatment device manufacturers are cashing in on a regulatory gray area.

Even if sleep apnea is properly screened and treated, however, an accident caused by truck driver fatigue still entitles the victim to compensation. An attorney could hire an investigator to inspect the truck and the accident scene, check the trucking company’s records and check the truck driver’s background. Attorneys stay up to date on state and federal laws and regulations, such as those of the FMCSA, and will make sure to take them into account.