ATA, OOIDA agree there should be no short-cuts in introducing sleep apnea testing requirements

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Both the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) are supporting new legislation that will require the US government to follow the established rulemaking process when introducing regulations to screen commercial drivers for sleep apnea.

The legislation was necessary, according to ATA, because the FMCSA had indicated it may pursue a guidance, rather than the conventional rulemaking process, to bring a sleep apnea screening rule in more quickly. Doing so, however, would not provide the medical community, industry or drivers, with sufficient opportunity to comment on the proposed legislation.

“ATA believes that if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to regulate sleep apnea, it should do so through the normal, established regulatory process rather than through informal guidance,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves. “The rulemaking process allows for medical experts, the regulated community, including professional drivers, to provide valuable data and input for the agency to consider in developing its regulations. A formal rulemaking will also require an analysis of the benefits and costs of regulating sleep apnea, an analysis not required for the issuance of guidance.”

Graves said a sleep apnea screening rule will have a major impact on the industry.

“This is not an insignificant step,” he said. “There are more than three million professional truck drivers (in the US) and the cost of screening, diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea could easily exceed $1 billion annually. Taking a step as potentially costly as that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly and outside of the normal processes.”

OOIDA sided with ATA on this issue.

“The best policy is for the agency to use the rulemaking process already in place rather than side-stepping it,” said OOIDA executive vice-president Todd Spencer. “With the potential cost to trucking running north of $1 billion without the proven safety improvement, guidance is not a practice we can support.”

OOIDA’s position is that any truck driver who has symptoms or signs of sleep apnea should seek the advice of their own primary care physician. It is opposed to suggested mandates that require testing solely based on Body Mass Index (BMI), and requirements that truckers use only expensive medical devices to treat the condition when other less expensive alternatives may be as effective.

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  • It’s interesting to know that prior to impending legislation and regulations for commercial drivers with sleep apnea, there may be some drivers who have been diagnosed but are not following the treatment by using a CPAP machine and therefore are at risk for all while driving!!

  • I have snored all of my life. I have been a truck driver for 22 years without an at fault accident. The only 2 accidents that I have ever had involved girls not paying attention to traffic when they pulled out into oncoming traffic. Once I was hit in the drives and the other time on the trailer tire.
    The government regulating my sleep makes just as much sense to me as the government regulating female drivers differently. When I need a nap I take a nap.
    I don’t fit the BMI range for testing. I am slim and I stay in shape by throwing tarps on my flatbed.
    The cost of this regulation far outweighs the benefits and puts us 1 step closer to big brother in the truck.
    In 2010, the FMCSA reports that only 1.4 percent of fatal truck accidents were the result of truck driver fatigue.
    The NHTSA estimates that 2.5 of all crashes across all vehicle types are caused by drowsy drivers. I say if they are going to require cdl holders to have sleep apnea testing then they need to require testing for all drivers license holders. Don’t discriminate against me because I hold a cdl. 78% of all accident are the fault of cars drivers. Looks to me like we need far more regulation for car drivers.

  • This is BS, I went to work for PRIME and they forced anyone that was 45lbs over weight to have a sleep study and the whole bit, my DR. was the head of the IU Sleep study lab and primes dr. tried to say I had sleep apnea…. I made them send the test stuff to my dr. Lets just say I won they lost and I still don’t have sleep apnea…. Companies will see this as a quick way to make money off incoming drivers

  • I think that it is very funny, regulation after regulation that is being imposed, and not many new drivers coming into the industry; they obviously believe that driver shortage is a myth, or maybe going to go away when they recruit our Hero’s of recent wars, by scamming them into believing that this is a lucrative industry, and waiving certain criteria in the CDL licensing process.

    35 years, millions of miles, and many sleepless nights later driving trucks, I have never been involved in a commercial vehicle accident. So exactly who is it that they are going to test, every CDL driver?

    I can’t wait to see everyone at the train station picking up their gorceries!

  • Sleep Apnea… While I will concede it is a real problem, isn’t it funny how all of the sudden it has become such a hot button to CDL holders and now most larger carriers are now “forcing” their own sleep studies, at the applicant’s cost of course, if they believe, based on their own set criteria, that a person needs it.
    I can say with absolute certainty that the carrier I currently lease to brings a fairly steady influx of new people weekly and tests those they feel need tested and near 95% end up being forced to purchase a hugely expensive CPAP machine.
    I am told the company makes no profit on the CPAP machines. I seriously doubt this. The company leases out a portion of their property to a “outside” doctor, supplies said doctor a steady stream of patients and a steady stream of new fancy CPAP machines are sold each week. Lets look at the long term cost to the driver requiring them to purchase new masks etc. on a regular basis.
    I am not against testing if a person truly is lacking solid sleep or has symptoms. Basing it off of a persons neck size or BMI is weak at best. But being forced to test, by being told it is a government mandate, which to date it is not, and then forced to purchase a expensive machine seems a bit unethical. I can also say with absolute certainty, if I get forced to “test” I shall park my truck permanently. That’s my opinion in a nutshell.

  • My Husband has been driving for 30 years and this is the first time he has run into any opposition concerning his DOT physical. Sure he is over weight but his last physical with his regular doctor said he was a very healthy man in a fat man’s body! That is all she could find was that he needed to loose some weight. His heart sounded good, his blood pressure was excellent, his other heart tests showed he was very sound and healthy! But for some reason the DOT says in around about way he needs to be tested for sleep apnea, which I say is a bunch of BS!! I have been married to this man for 25 plus years and he has never showed any of the symptoms that the so called sleep apnea has listed, such as high blood pressure, he’s not diabetic, I have never heard him snore, stop breathing, or gasped for air while he was sleeping and believe me I have listened and have always slept soundly beside him! I mean who makes up all these symptoms or crazy questions? Who doesn’t sometimes get sleepy after eating but that doesn’t mean they have sleep apnea! I, like a lot of other people such as drivers, want to know what makes these people or person an expert on the matter! I did that test online just to see what my Husband’s risk may be and it showed he was at low risk of having sleep apnea even though his bmi was over the recommended rate and his neck size was as well! But you let a DOT examiner see that and they will say he will need to be tested. WHY I say???? He doesn’t show any of the other symptoms!! It is all about the money in my opinion and government interfering where they shouldn’t!!!!