NHTSA: Regulate Sleep Apnea For Truck Drivers
A proposed rule to regulate sleep apnea for truck drivers and railroad workers has brought both criticism and praise as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration work to reduce accidents caused by drowsy driving. The regulation, which is currently open for public comment, has drawn 593 responses from proponents and opponents.
Among the injury cases that a Chicago truck accident attorney handles, accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers are some of the most catastrophic. Regulations that help reduce drowsy driving among truck drivers would be welcome, but it is unclear whether or not the proposed rule would have that effect.
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The FMCSA and the FRA jointly proposed the rule in an effort to study the effects of sleep apnea on commercial truck drivers and railroad workers. If the rule becomes law, then truck drivers would be required to undergo testing for sleep apnea. The condition causes multiple interruptions in sufferers’ breathing while they are asleep, resulting in poor sleep quality. People then feel fatigued during their waking hours. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found that 28 percent of drivers suffer from sleep apnea. The agencies believe that by identifying and treating truck and railroad workers who have sleep apnea, fatal accidents could be reduced.
Arguments Of Opponents
The proposed regulation has brought swift criticism. Some truck drivers have pointed out that the medical test for sleep apnea costs up to $4,000, and most insurance companies do not provide coverage for it. Industry groups have also said that the agencies are acting when they have little data to show that treating sleep apnea would reduce the risk of injury accidents. Some argue that instead of the rule, the hours of service regulation should be changed to allow truck drivers to take breaks without subtracting them from their time on duty.
Proponents have pointed to the regulation for pilots. Commercial pilots are required to undergo testing for sleep apnea even though they do not have to constantly pay attention during long flights. Truck drivers must pay attention at all times, but they are not required to undergo testing.
A Chicago truck accident attorney sometimes represents people who have been seriously injured when tired truck drivers don’t stop in time. While the rule sounds like it might be a good idea, more research would better inform the government about its necessity.