FMCSA was left red faced on Friday as it accidentally published its plans for sleep apnea testing in the Federal Register. The agency initially published the recommendations along with a request for comments only to recall the notice claiming that it had be put up because of a ‘clerical error’ (no we don’t know how that happens either).
In a statement issued on Friday Afternoon FMCSA said:
“FMCSA is withdrawing its proposed regulatory guidance for obstructive sleep apnea and request for comment as published in today’s Federal Register. The agency is still in the process of carefully reviewing the recommendations submitted by the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board. The initial publication was a clerical error. We anticipate requesting public comment on the recommendations later this year.”
So now that we have been given a sneak peak as to what FMCSA is planning for sleep apnea regulation, what can we expect when the ‘official’ rules are finally released?
According to the accidental release, FMCSA would like to stagger certification for drivers with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or greater. Initially they will receive a 60-day certification an must undergo a sleep study. Then they will get a 90-day certification and, if there are no sleep apnea related issues, the driver will receive a one-year certification.
Doctors will be able to cite a number of sleep apnea triggers to make a driver go through a sleep lab. These include male drivers and post-menopausal female drivers with a BMI of 28 and have been in a crash; Male drivers with a 17- inch neck or female drivers with a 15.5-inch neck; drivers older than 42; drivers with a family history of sleep apnea; and drivers with a small jaw.
There would also be additional punishments (decertifications and disqualifications) for drivers who have crashes associated with falling asleep, have not been using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device, or who report excessive sleepiness during normal waking hours.
That last note seems unlikely to make it to a Final Rule; surely punishing drivers who self-report issues is counterproductive and would only serve to make matters worse. Which perfectly illustrates the point that these are ‘pre-release’ unfinished regulations. There is a good chance the regulations that actually get release will be a great deal different.
We’d love to hear you thoughts on the sleep apnea problem (or if you even think its a problem at all) in the comments section.