Sleep Apnea Screenings Won’t Be Mandatory for Truckers 

Sleep Apnea Screenings Won’t Be Mandatory for Truckers 

A variety of health issues prevent truckers from being as attentive as they should when behind the wheel. They create alarming safety hazards for other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Obstructive sleep apnea is an especially concerning condition, as it prevents drivers from obtaining the quality sleep they need to remain alert on the road.  Marked by numerous breathing interruptions while sleeping, apnea causes daytime drowsiness and reduced concentration — potentially deadly problems for commercial truck drivers.

Recent efforts left concerned individuals hopeful for a future free from drowsy driving truckers. Unfortunately, the agencies that previously proposed mandatory apnea testing for truck drivers reversed course in August. Supporters of the proposed rule fear that, without action, truck drivers who suffer from sleep apnea will continue to place themselves and others at risk every time they take the wheel.

Sleep Apnea: Shockingly Common Among Drivers

Many of those who objected to the initial apnea testing proposal fail to understand the prominence of sleep apnea in the transportation industry — and the hazards it poses for the general population. According to a University of Pennsylvania study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), sleep apnea strikes 28 percent of commercial truckers. An alarming five percent of commercial truck drivers suffer from severe apnea.

Experts at the American Sleep Apnea Association claim that as many as 80 percent of those with moderate to severe apnea go undiagnosed, so the aforementioned figures from FMCSA could be lowball estimates. Even so, it’s worrisome to think that nearly one of every three commercial trucks are operated by individuals fatigued from sleep apnea.

How Sleep Apnea Impacts Commercial Truck Drivers

Depending on the severity of the condition, people with sleep apnea may face hundreds of sleep interruptions every night, with some lasting as long as ten seconds. These breathing interruptions make it virtually impossible for sufferers to achieve a full night’s rest. As a result, those with sleep apnea feel exhausted during the day. Their memory suffers, as does their concentration.

Experts at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety claim that drowsy driving poses as significant a threat as intoxication behind the wheel. This is particularly true for those operating commercial vehicles. Not all truckers with apnea fall asleep while driving, but even a brief lapse in concentration or alertness can produce devastating consequences.

Withdrawn Regulations

In early 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration proposed a rule that would mandate testing for sleep apnea among commercial truck drivers and train operators. Nearly a year and a half later, the agencies withdrew the rule, despite referring to apnea as “an on-going concern.” Cited reasons for the withdrawal included cost concerns and a purported belief that the issue can best be addressed via existing safety initiatives and programs.

The National Transportation Safety Board expressed disappointment at the recent decision. Representative Christopher O’Neil explained, “The need for this rulemaking is well documented.”

With a proposal that could have improved road safety being hastily withdrawn, it is once again critical that victims of apnea-related accidents be aware that drowsy driving constitutes negligence, and victims of ensuing accidents can hold responsible parties accountable via the court system.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a truck accident, you deserve justice. The Chris J. Roy, Jr. Law Firm can help. Founder Chris Roy Jr. has a long track record of success in Alexandria, Pineville, and throughout Central Louisiana. Call 318-487-9537 today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

A variety of health issues prevent truckers from being as attentive as they should when behind the wheel. They create alarming safety hazards for other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Obstructive sleep apnea is an especially concerning condition, as it prevents drivers from obtaining the quality sleep they need to remain alert on the road.  Marked by numerous breathing interruptions while sleeping, apnea causes daytime drowsiness and reduced concentration — potentially deadly problems for commercial truck drivers.

Recent efforts left concerned individuals hopeful for a future free from drowsy driving truckers. Unfortunately, the agencies that previously proposed mandatory apnea testing for truck drivers reversed course in August. Supporters of the proposed rule fear that, without action, truck drivers who suffer from sleep apnea will continue to place themselves and others at risk every time they take the wheel.

Sleep Apnea: Shockingly Common Among Drivers

Many of those who objected to the initial apnea testing proposal fail to understand the prominence of sleep apnea in the transportation industry — and the hazards it poses for the general population. According to a University of Pennsylvania study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), sleep apnea strikes 28 percent of commercial truckers. An alarming five percent of commercial truck drivers suffer from severe apnea.

Experts at the American Sleep Apnea Association claim that as many as 80 percent of those with moderate to severe apnea go undiagnosed, so the aforementioned figures from FMCSA could be lowball estimates. Even so, it’s worrisome to think that nearly one of every three commercial trucks are operated by individuals fatigued from sleep apnea.

How Sleep Apnea Impacts Commercial Truck Drivers

Depending on the severity of the condition, people with sleep apnea may face hundreds of sleep interruptions every night, with some lasting as long as ten seconds. These breathing interruptions make it virtually impossible for sufferers to achieve a full night’s rest. As a result, those with sleep apnea feel exhausted during the day. Their memory suffers, as does their concentration.

Experts at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety claim that drowsy driving poses as significant a threat as intoxication behind the wheel. This is particularly true for those operating commercial vehicles. Not all truckers with apnea fall asleep while driving, but even a brief lapse in concentration or alertness can produce devastating consequences.

Withdrawn Regulations

In early 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration proposed a rule that would mandate testing for sleep apnea among commercial truck drivers and train operators. Nearly a year and a half later, the agencies withdrew the rule, despite referring to apnea as “an on-going concern.” Cited reasons for the withdrawal included cost concerns and a purported belief that the issue can best be addressed via existing safety initiatives and programs.

The National Transportation Safety Board expressed disappointment at the recent decision. Representative Christopher O’Neil explained, “The need for this rulemaking is well documented.”

With a proposal that could have improved road safety being hastily withdrawn, it is once again critical that victims of apnea-related accidents be aware that drowsy driving constitutes negligence, and victims of ensuing accidents can hold responsible parties accountable via the court system.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a truck accident, you deserve justice. The Chris J. Roy, Jr. Law Firm can help. Founder Chris Roy Jr. has a long track record of success in Alexandria, Pineville, and throughout Central Louisiana. Call 318-487-9537 today to schedule a complimentary consultation.



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