Any rulemaking or guidance based on the recommendations would be put up for public comment, and a rulemaking would take years to develop, an FMCSA official said. He said drivers could expect the interim recommended guidance issued by the joint committee last December to come up for a 30-day comment period this spring.
The 11 recommendations stem from a January meeting of the group’s obstructive sleep apnea subcommittee, where seven key questions about the condition, its treatment and its relationship to highway safety were considered.
The central question in FMCSA’s possible regulation of the condition will be whether individuals with obstructive sleep apnea are at an increased risk for a motor vehicle crash compared with those who do not suffer from it.
The OSA subcommittee linked crash risk with sleep apnea largely by extrapolating data from studies on noncommercial drivers and one that involved commercial drivers that showed a range of increased risk.
The recommendations issued Feb. 6 would allow a 60-day conditional certification to be issued for drivers screened for testing due only to BMI. If determined to have apnea, those drivers would need to return to their examiner with proof of one week’s worth of successful treatment before being issued a 90-day certification pending further evaluation of treatment compliance. As long as they are being treated, those drivers would get no longer than a one-year medical certification.
A second group of drivers – those with an apnea-hypopnea index measurement greater than 20, who have reported experiencing excessive sleepiness during their major work period, day or night, or who have experienced a crash “associated with” falling asleep – would be denied the conditional certification.
A large amount of discretion would be given to individual health professionals in requiring drivers with BMI measurements lower than 35 to be tested and in issuing conditional certifications.
— Todd Dills
Mexican carrier violates U.S. leasing law
Grupo Behr, of Apodaca, Nuevo León, was found to violate U.S. leasing laws pertaining to Mexican carriers, said William Quade of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Enforcement and Compliance division.
Violation of the 1999 Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act’s Section 219 was found in the pre-authorization safety audit for carriers who would be part of the U.S.-Mexican cross-border trucking pilot program, he said.
Mexican carriers have been able to “lease to a commercial zone carrier because they could get commercial zone authority,” Quade said in a cross-border subcommittee meeting of FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee. Section 219 was intended to end the ability for a Mexican carrier to lease trucks and drivers to a U.S. carrier for operations beyond the authority the Mexican carrier could get clearance for on its own.
The agency issued a notice to Grupo for violating Section 219, but pursued no civil penalties. “Our preliminary decision is to monitor the situation for six months to consider whether we should allow them into the program.”
Since the first Mexican truck crossing began the pilot program with Mexico in October, no violations were found in the eight inspections carried out in the nine crossings made, Quade said. Transportes Olympic of Monterrey and Moises Alvarez Perez, doing business as Distribuidora Marina El Pescador, of Tijuana, made the crossings.