New Rules Pondered for Truckers with Sleep Apnea

Recent legislation is moving the U.S. government a step closer to new regulations for truckers with sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

The new rules, which may force trucking companies to include sleep apnea in its list of issues to check for, could cost the industry one billion dollars in lost revenues due to the loss of experienced drivers and added training.

Each state now has its own set of guidelines as to how it screens and tests drivers suspected of having sleep apnea, which can cause daytime sleepiness due to lack of good nighttime rest. A new federal law passed in the last couple of weeks ensures testing, screening or treatment for drivers be adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding.  What those rules are going to be hasn’t yet been determined.

“In the coming months we plan to begin collecting and analyzing research on how best to address obstructive sleep apnea in a rule, in accordance with the new law,” said Marissa Padilla, spokeswoman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Approximately 170,000 individuals are injured in trucking accidents each year. Roughly 5,000 semi-trucks per year are involved in fatal traffic accidents in the United States.  It’s not known how many of those truck accidents are related to sleep apnea, but  but driver fatigue has accounted for up to 40% accidents in the last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.