Channel 19

Todd Dills

Sleep apnea reg recommendations: Comments closed?

| April 24, 2012

If you’ve missed the news as yet, the recommendations put forward by the joint meeting of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on sleep apnea entered a 30-day comment period late last week. Or did they? The agency sent out updates to various media following the Federal Register notice that stated the proposal to adopt the recommendations as official regulatory guidance was posted in “a clerical error.”

In any case, if you’re confused by the fact that the Federal Register page for the proposal remains live here, you’re not alone. For all intents and purposes, it looks pretty well live to me, too.

If you’re short on time, I don’t imagine you should put aside potentially lucrative business activity to comment on a proposed rule that is in the kind of limbo suggested above, but then again if you do in fact have the time…

At least you can check out the official transcription there of the MCSAC/MRB’s recommendations for the time being. The agency asked in its erroneous proposal for you to weigh in directly on the recommendations, among them to require all drivers found to have a body-mass-index measurement of 35 or greater to face mandatory testing for sleep apnea. An agency rep, speaking on background, tells me the official withdrawal of the proposal is set to be published later this week, fyi, so time may be of the essence.

The recommendations as listed in the proposed guidance are very similar, regardless, to my transcription of the proceedings at the February MCSAC meeting, which you can read without time limit here.

Take the snafu under advisement, and I don’t think you’d be totally out of line to view this “clerical error” as indication of the kind of rulemaking the agency may well pursue in future.

The MCSAC meets publicly again next month in Alexandria, Va., May 21-23, agenda as yet unknown. Stay tuned to this page for updates.


UPDATE 4/26/2012

Language of the withdrawal of the request for comment was, as promised, officially published to the Federal Register website today. Text follows. Of note: “We anticipate requesting public comment on the recommendations later this year.” Stay tuned.


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Proposed Recommendations on Obstructive Sleep Apnea
AGENCY:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION:  Withdrawal of Notice.
SUMMARY: FMCSA is withdrawing its proposed regulatory guidance for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and request for comment as published on April 20, 2012. The Agency is still in the process of carefully reviewing the recommendations submitted by the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board. The initial publication was a clerical error. We anticipate requesting public comment on the recommendations later this year.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Angela Ward, Nurse Consultant Medical Programs, (202) 366-4001,, FMCSA, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., Room W64-224, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Related stories:
FMCSA withdraws April 19 sleep apnea proposal
Language of MCSAC / Medical Review Board recommended apnea guidelines — more from D.C.
FMCSA group eyes sleep apnea regs
FMCSA meeting to address sleep apnea

  • Don Lanier

    Todd, I have submitted my comment, and I hope its valued, I asked and made my point that drivers safe drivng records should be taken into account, I like many others have several safe driving awards, and these should allow us exemptions, What good is a safe driving award other then to stroke our egos’ Its time the Industry made that count. I dont take lightly my ability, or my time behind the wheel, Ive strived for a safe driving record, In 12 years of licensed Class A/C Driving Ive had NO ACCIDENTS.

    Now if I were sleep deprived dont you believe that would show on my MVR…which is perfectly clear, I think we need to stand our ground and demand that safe drivers be given exemption from this COST, and it is a HUGE COST, Now if this board stand son safety and there BIG CONCERN is safe drivers, Then allow Safe drivers to be proud of there SAFE DRIVING, and EXEMPT us from these tests, after all weve PROVED were safe behind that wheel havent we.

    Ive driven in every state, in every weather condition, in all types of trucks from Staright to Oversized, Ive hauled Steel coils, and Cranes, Lumber, and Corn, and Ive delivered every load SAFELY….Now I challenge all of you to come forward on your record, submit the same requests, and lets get something for our efforts besides a small card or a patch/Jacket….its time safe drivers were rewarded and excluded from these INTRUSIONS

  • Todd Dills

    Don, Thanks for the feedback here, and I’ll keep an eye out moving ahead for other opportunities for drivers to voice their thoughts on how this approach to sleep apnea will affect the business — Given that this one will be withdrawn later this week, I’m unsure as to the status of comments that come in prior to that withdrawal, so I’d definitely encourage you to tell regulators again what you’ve told them this time around, next time… Until then…

  • John Wilcox

    Having lived with sleep apnea for years I am all for people getting checked out. My life has been improved in so many ways with Sleep Apnea under control. BUT I do not agree with government requiring this testing. More times than not, it is the car driver that needs this test done, not the Truck driver they hit.

  • Don Lanier

    Ive spoken with several people who have there Lives bettered by using the devices, But as far as forcing every driver in America etc, I think they better just add Police, Firemen, Doctors, Judges, Congressmen, Carpenters, etc,
    Its a discriminatory practice aimed at truckers who have endured the bad food, and bad practices to make livings for the familys.
    We dont need tests that take a paycheck or two or three out of my pocket to make me a safer driver. Encouraging drivers to get healthy and rewarding them for the same would be a far better way to get HEALTH CONCERNS cleaned up. Giving drivers Impetus to walk and excercise instead of working over my pocket book FOR LIFE.

  • Don Lanier

    For most of us, sleep deprivation is a myth. We’re not zombies. The non-profit National Sleep Foundation (which takes money from the sleep-aid industry, including drug companies that make sleeping pills) says the average U.S. resident gets 7 hours a night and that’s not enough, but a University of Maryland study earlier this year shows we typically get 8 hours and are doing fine. In fact, Americans get just as much sleep nowadays as they did 40 years ago, the study found.

    Multiple, shorter sleep sessions nightly, rather than one long one, are an option. So-called polyphasic sleep is seen in babies, the elderly and other animals (and Thomas Edison reportedly slept this way). For the rest of us, it is more realistic and healthy to sleep at night as best we can and then take naps as needed. EEGs show that we are biphasic sleepers with two alertness dips – one at night time and one mid-day. So talk to HR about setting up a nap room, like they have for NASA’s Phoenix mission team members.

    Taken from the following article,

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