Sleep apnea bill becomes law, FMCSA can’t use guidance to address driver screening
The so-called sleep apnea bill that quickly made its way through both chambers of Congress in recent weeks was signed into law by President Barack Obama Tuesday, Oct. 15. The law forbids the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from using guidance alone to address sleep apnea screening for drivers.
The law does not require FMCSA to make a sleep apnea screening rule. Rather, it requires that if the agency take action, it do so via the formal rulemaking process rather than guidance, as the agency had hinted it would do.
The House introduced its version of the bill in early September and passed it less than two weeks later.
In the meantime, FMCSA had released a statement saying it would use rulemaking and not guidance when it decided to pursue action on sleep apnea screening.
However, the Senate introduced the House bill in late September and passed the bill it last week.
In a letter to House colleagues after introducing the legislation, Rep. Larry Buschon (R-Md.) said the FMCSA plan to use guidance alone would prevent the industry and the public from having the ability to properly evaluate the rule and take part in the process.
“In the interest of due process,” the letter said, any action FMCSA takes should come in the form of a rule. Guidance also, the letter said, would make carriers vulnerable to lawsuits.