NTSB asks trucking regulators to require sleep apnea screening, collision mitigation tech

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Updated Jan 15, 2015
One of the NTSB’s recommendations for trucking regulators calls for requiring all drivers to be screened for sleep apnea.One of the NTSB’s recommendations for trucking regulators calls for requiring all drivers to be screened for sleep apnea.

As part of its annual Top 10 Most Wanted list for safety regulations, the National Transportation Safety Board has asked FMCSA to implement several rules related to medical requirements for truck operators, mandates for use of crash avoidance tech on trucks and trailers and a nationwide ban on electronics use while driving.

Four of NTSB’s 10 Most Wanted items relate to trucking:

Bevy of regulations: Chief among trucking-related items on the Most Wanted list is NTSB’s request that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “improve their oversight of operators, drivers and vehicles,” NTSB says.

Stronger oversight includes, per NTSB, (1) more steps to ensure new entrant carriers address any safety deficiencies and quicker out-of-service placement if deficiencies are not improved, (2) implementation of an electronic logging device mandate and (3) instituting sleep apnea screening requirements.

NTSB’s request for improved oversight also includes requirements that all trucks be equipped with collision warning technology, tire pressure monitoring systems, rollover stability control systems and lane departure warning systems.

Greater medical requirements: NTSB says truck operators should be subject to more and stricter medical requirements, including procedures to identify risk of sleep disorders. Qualification of medical examiners should be limited to those who have the ability to prescribe medicine and have access to information about conditions that could disqualify patients from operating commercial equipment, NTSB says.

Banning use of electronics: NTSB’s second trucking-related item is for drivers of all vehicles, including trucks (and planes): The safety board asks for a nationwide ban on the use of personal electronic devices while driving. Currently, only 14 states and D.C. ban the use of handheld devices while driving.

Impaired driving: NTSB recommends for carriers post-accident drug and alcohol testing or drivers, along with drivers themselves discussing with their doctors any impairment effects that prescription medication may cause. The agency also recommends stronger laws against impaired driving, increasing visibility of enforcement and expanded use of technology that locks ignition of engines via passive alcohol sensors.

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