The sleep apnea rule is dead in the water, according to a notice from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The sleep apnea rule was intended to help medical examiners, carrier employers and truck drivers know what conditions or combinations of conditions would prompt a driver to be referred to an in-lab sleep apnea test. It would also lay out treatment protocols for all involved parties.
What is sleep apnea? It is a disorder where a person’s breathing stops and starts repeatedly while sleeping. There are many forms of sleep apnea, with obstructive sleep apnea the most common. Several factors can increase risk for sleep apnea, including being overweight, hypertension, diabetes, age, alcohol and smoking.
The sleep apnea rule was the result of aggressive work last year, including the publication of a pre-rule.
Is Sleep Apnea a Big Problem in the Trucking Industry?
One in five adults suffers from some form of sleep apnea. Truckers are more likely to suffer from the condition. 28 percent of drivers suffer mild to severe sleep apnea. That number comes from a joint study by the University of Pennsylvania, the FMCSA and the American Transportation Research Institute. And studies show that people with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of being involved in a fatigue-related motor vehicle crash.
Without a rule on sleep apnea and which drivers top test, the current system will stand.