The new rules, which were proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation, intend to collect data on truck operators to find out how many might suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
According to Landlinemag.com, which follows the trucking industry, the FMCSA submitted advance notice to the Office of Management and Budget that such a regulation could come to pass.
The abstract for the notice reads, “the FMCSA and Federal Railroad Administration request data and information concerning the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in rail and highway transportation.”
Both organizations also want information regarding “the potential economic impact and safety benefits associated with regulatory actions that would result in transportation workers in these positions, who exhibit multiple risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea, undergoing evaluation by a healthcare professional with expertise in sleep disorders and subsequent treatment.”
Sleep apnea disrupts the sleep of millions of Americans, causing them to snore loudly and even stop breathing at night. It is most often treated with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device, such as a CPAP mask, and other therapies.
Federal regulations dictate that anyone driving a commercial vehicle must have “no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with his/her ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle safely.”
The proposal will print in the Federal Register sometime in January, which will be the first public disclosure of the proposal. After that, the rulemaking process will include public comment periods, legitimate research, cost-benefit analysis, and other steps.
Truck drivers will also have to carry a Department of Transportation medical card to show they’ve passed a physical examination, according to KOAM TV in Pittsburg, KS.
One of those drivers is Bob Sponseller. He is required to get a physical every year because of his sleep apnea.
In the past, Sponseller could have received an extenuation of 30, 60, or 90 days if he didn’t pass his physical exam. A new rule going into effect on Dec. 22, however, states that either the driver or the trucking company must pay for another complete physical before the limited card expires.
Federal regulators intend to not only collect data on the prevalence of sleep apnea and other disorders, but also to obtain feedback from drivers about the proposed regulations, according to trucking news site Overdrive.