Los Angeles, CA- Some lawmakers in D.C. are trying to address the hazards of fatigued driving in the transportation industry by introducing legislation that would make sleep apnea testing mandatory for truck drivers and railroad engineers.
Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Require Sleep Apnea Testing
Democrat lawmakers introduced legislation in late September that would require truck drivers and rail conductors to undergo mandatory sleep apnea testing. It forces the Department of Transportation to develop and enforce the testing standards.
The legislation is a reaction to a National Traffic Safety Board investigation that found that two railroad engineers who were in involved in separate deadly commuter rail crashes in New York. The legislation is also pushback against the Trump Administration which suspended the rulemaking process on obstructive sleep apnea.
New Jersey Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker along with New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand sponsored the bill, according to Trucking Info. There is also a companion bill in the house.
There is little chance of the legislation passing in the Republican-controlled Congress.
How Big of an Issue is Sleep Apnea? Should Drivers Be Forced to Take a Sleep Test?Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation that would require truck drivers undergo sleep apnea testing.
Driver fatigue was responsible for 13 percent of fatal truck crashes in 2015, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
A common cause of truck driver fatigue is undiagnosed sleep apnea, a disorder that causes interrupted sleep due to obstructed breathing. A person with untreated sleep apnea often feels exhausted in the morning and gets drowsy throughout the day. A 2016 study conducted by the Virginia Tech Institute found that a truck driver who suffers from sleep apnea is four to five times more likely to cause a truck wreck.
For the study, researchers compared data on drivers who have sleep apnea with drivers who did not. Some of the drivers suffering from sleep apnea were being treated while some refused the recommended treatments. Researchers found that 70 truck crashes over a one-year period could have been prevented if drivers with sleep apnea had proper medical care.
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