Feds Decide Against Sleep Apnea Tests for Truckers
Drowsy drivers present a hazard no matter what type of vehicle they’re piloting. But when it comes to a ten-ton behemoth rolling down the highway, disaster can occur if the driver nods off for even a second.
There was a time when sleep apnea was such a concern in the freight industry that regulators were debating whether to make testing mandatory. While some regulations have made their way through despite being called excessive and burdensome, this is one instance where truck drivers dodged a bullet. Federal regulators have recently deemed compulsory sleep apnea testing unnecessary.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has said they’re abandoning their pursuit of the regulation. The fatigue-inducing issue has been blamed for deadly crashes on several U.S. highways. It has also been an issue in the railroad industry, where regulators have also abandoned the idea of mandator testing at a federal level.
Regulators, along with many companies, agree that the decision to test employees should lie with the employers rather than bureaucratic agencies. One railroad company that conducts a sleep apnea test has found that just over a tenth of all engineers have the condition.
The effort to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses was behind this decision, with the Trump administration continuing its commitment to cut the red tape surrounding U.S. industries. While some may argue that sleep apnea tests are necessary to protect America’s roadways from drowsy drivers, many steps have already been taken to remedy this problem.
Both the hours-of-service rule and the upcoming switch to electronic logging devices are based on concerns about fatigued drivers being at a higher risk for accidents. By ensuring drivers have plenty of rest breaks and don’t stay on the road too long, regulators have aimed to create a safer work environment for truckers and the drivers they share the roads with.
While some regulations have been called intrusive, such as a proposed speed limit change on heavier vehicles, there seems to be greater support for keeping this mandate in effect. Nonetheless, regulators have shown no signs of reconsidering the decision or passing any new laws regarding sleep apnea screenings.