The Department of Transportation has withdrawn a proposed rule that would have established the requirements for sleep apnea testing for truckers in West Virginia and around the country. The withdrawal allows the current system, which provides medical examiners the authority to decide which truckers have to receive sleep apnea screenings, to continue.
Under the withdrawn rule, truck carrier employers, truck drivers and medical examiners would receive unambiguous instructions identifying the criteria that would have required the referral of a driver to a sleep apnea screening. The rule also would give much needed clarity regarding the treatments drivers would receive.
In the current system, medical examiners are compelled to use one of many different types of screening procedures to decide which truck drivers should undergo testing. The policy is a confusing one and has resulted in misunderstandings throughout the industry. There have been some instances in which drivers have issued accusations regarding unnecessary referrals and the doctors, sleep apnea companies and manufacturers of sleep devices who are taking advantage of the system to make money. During 2016, the FMCSA worked determinedly on the sleep apnea rule. Some of its efforts included sessions around the country where opinions could be voiced. However, according to the July 2017 regulatory update, insufficient information was gathered to justify a rulemaking.
Truck driver fatigue is a common cause of big rig accidents. This often occurs when drivers are told to stay behind the wheel for long stretches of time in order to stay on schedule, and the resulting drowsiness could be exacerbated by sleep apnea. People who have been injured in such an accident may want to have legal assistance in trying to obtain compensation for the losses that they have incurred.