Trucking companies do not need to test for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder in which a person's breathing becomes interrupted periodically throughout the night, which prevents the person from getting a full night's sleep, and he or she is more likely to suffer from fatigue. This increases the risk of an accident if that person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle. Earlier in 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration refused to pursue regulations that would have required trucking company employers to test drivers for sleep apnea. 

Due to their size, big rigs are more likely to result in injury and death if involved in a collision. It is vital to understand both sides of the argument regarding new rules so truckers can receive the assistance they need to combat sleep apnea. 

Pros and cons of legislation

The goal of creating such a bill is to make roadways safer. The law would require employers to pay for sleeping tests for all truckers. Opponents of the rule stated that the language was unclear and that certain items required clarification before it could effectively combat sleeping disorders. Some truckers opposed the regulation because they were concerned the test would not be accurate and that their employers would take them off duty if mistakenly diagnosed with sleep apnea. 

Action for trucking companies to take

While the Department of Transportation does not currently require trucking companies to test drivers, it is still in the best interest for employers to continue conducting tests on their own. Sleep apnea takes many forms, and it can be mild, moderate or severe. A disqualifying grade would be a trucker with moderate to severe sleep apnea. Additionally, the results do not mean the trucker is out of a job forever. Many treatments are available for sleep apnea, including mouth guards and CPAP machines. Once the trucker gets her or his sleeping patterns under control, he or she can get back to work.

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