DOT seeks feedback on sleep apnea rule for CMV drivers

Agencies to host three public listening sessions

Posted March 10, 2016

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced on March 8 that the agencies are seeking public input during the next 90 days on the impacts of screening, evaluating, and treating commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and rail workers for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

According to the agencies, the joint Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) is the first step in considering whether to propose requirements specifically on OSA. FMCSA and FRA will host three public listening sessions to gather input on OSA in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles.

It is estimated that 22 million men and women could be suffering from undiagnosed OSA, a respiratory disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. Undiagnosed or inadequately treated moderate to severe OSA can cause unintended sleep episodes and deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, memory, and the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive service.

For individuals with OSA, eight hours of sleep can be less refreshing than four hours of ordinary, uninterrupted sleep, according to a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The agencies say the size and scope of the potential problem means that OSA presents a critical safety issue for all modes and operations in the transportation industry.

For any CMV drivers who are detected to have a respiratory dysfunction, such as OSA, FMCSA currently recommends that medical examiners refer them for further evaluation and therapy.

In January 2015, FMCSA issued a bulletin to remind health care professionals on the agency’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners of the current physical qualifications standard and advisory criteria concerning the respiratory system, specifically how the requirements apply to drivers that may have obstructive sleep apnea.


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