FMCSA medical board to make sleep apnea rule recommendations this month

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration later this month will take the next step toward a rulemaking governing the screening and treatment of truck drivers suspected of having moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.

The agency announced in a Federal Register notice its Medical Review Board (MRB) will hold public meetings Aug. 22-23 to make recommendations to FMCSA based on comments received during the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on sleep apnea published earlier this year.

Additionally, FMCSA says the MRB will review its 2012 report on obstructive sleep apnea to see if the report needs to be updated based on any changes to medical practices since its publication, or based on any comments received at the listening sessions or in the Federal Register docket.

The public meetings will be held Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 22-23, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern at the FMCSA National Training Center in Arlington, Va.

Meeting attendees will be able to make oral comments during the meeting, or comments can be submitted to be read during the meeting by Wednesday, Aug. 17 by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2008-0362 or FMCSA-2015-0419 at www.regulations.gov.

In May, FMCSA held three public listening sessions in which drivers, fleet representatives and medical professionals were able to voice their opinions and concerns about a potential rule on obstructive sleep apnea. Most drivers raised concerns about lost time and money after being referred for a sleep test by a medical examiner. A recap of each meeting can be found here, here and here.

The American Transportation Research Institute has also released its findings of a study on sleep apnea conducted this year. ATRI found that costs to truckers can exceed $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses when referred for sleep apnea screening. The full findings of ATRI’s report can be seen here.

Another study released this year on the effects of sleep apnea on truckers, published in the medical journal “Sleep,” found that drivers are five times more likely to be involved in a preventable crash if they have untreated obstructive sleep apnea. More on the findings of this study can be seen here.

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