DOT Won't Mandate Sleep Apnea Screenings For Drivers, Train Operators

Two Department of Transportation agencies say there's not enough information to move forward with their proposal.
Posted at 4:45 PM, Aug 09, 2017

Two federal transportation agencies are pulling their proposal to screen train operators and truck drivers for sleep apnea.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sleep apnea causes breathing disruptions during sleep which can lead to "excessive daytime sleepiness." That's a real problem for people who drive for a living.

A federal agency that investigates civil transportation accidents has found the condition may have played a role in several rail and highway accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, and the Federal Railroad Administration, or FRA, created the proposal in March of last year. But the National Transportation Safety Board has been urging the FRA to screen for sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, since a railroad crash killed two crew members in 2011. The two were reportedly at risk for sleep apnea.

The FMCSA and FRA withdrew the proposal because they say there isn't enough information to warrant going forward with the rule.

The decision follows an executive order by President Donald Trump requiring every federal agency to create a regulatory reform task force. The job of the task forces is to "alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens" and decrease the costs associated with new regulations.

Heavy Duty Trucking reported in June that the FMCSA had begun considering which rules to cut.

In the withdrawal document, the agencies called sleep apnea an "ongoing concern" and a safety hazard, but said current safety programs are appropriate to handle the problem.

They also encouraged commercial drivers and employers to increase their awareness of sleep apnea.