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FMCSA Seeking Input On Sleep Apnea Screening

FMCSA Seeking Input On Sleep Apnea Screening

It has been decided that three public listening sessions, hosted by the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), will be conducted to collect public input on the effects of screening, treating, and evaluation of truck drivers and railroaders for OSA.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a respiratory disorder resulted due to a cessation or reduction in breathing during sleep. According to statistics presented by the FMSCA, nearly 22 million men and women are suffering from OSA that goes undiagnosed or poorly treated. But an undiagnosed OSA condition can have many alarming consequences such as a loss in concentration and focus, deficits in memory and situational awareness.

U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, stated, “It is imperative for everyone’s safety that commercial motor vehicle drivers and train operators be fully focused and immediately responsive at all times. DOT strongly encourages comment from the public on how to best respond to this national health and transportation safety issue.”

According to a recent study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, individual suffering from OSA may find a four-hour uninterrupted sleep more refreshing than an eight-hour ordinary sleep. This means that the impacts of OSA can potentially become a critical concern for the transportation industry.

While shedding some light on the sleep apnea issue and the efforts of the FMCSA, Sarah Feinberg, administrator at FRA stated, “The sooner patients with OSA are diagnosed and treated, the sooner our rail network will be safer. “Over the next 90 days, we look forward to hearing views from stakeholders about the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, their views on diagnosis and treatment, and potential economic impacts.”

Scott Darling, FMCSA Acting Administrator was reported saying, “The collection and analysis of sound data on the impact of OSA must be our immediate first step.” He further added, “We call upon the public to help us better understand the prevalence of OSA among commercial truck and bus drivers, as well as the safety and economic impacts on the truck and bus industries.”

Many fatigue management plans will soon be established on certain railroads, thanks to FRA. In 2012, a joint collaboration of the FRA with John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Harvard University’s Division of Sleep Medicine and WFBH Education Foundation to sponsor a guide on the Healthy Sleep website called as the “Railroaders’ Guide to Healthy Sleep”. The aim of the website and the guide was to create awareness about sleeping disorders and its risks to the families of railroaders and help improve the quality of sleep of the drivers.

All those Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers who have been detected with some sorts of sleep apnea have been recommended for further therapy and evaluation before taking on the road. A bulletin in January, 2015 was issued by the FMCSA to strike a chord of healthcare experts to set up advisory criteria and physical qualification standard that must be applied on all those drivers who have had issues with respiratory system, especially on those who may have obstructive sleep apnea.
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