Let’s Get this BMI Thing Right

Joey Lemon’s letter on driver health in the December issue was right on with many points. One statement, though, has a problem. “… the truck drivers out there who are worried about losing their jobs, getting laid off or being disqualified because of their BMI ….” Don’t worry about any of this. One of the myths and misinformation about the sleep apnea/BMI issue that FMCSA has been working hard to dispel is that a high BMI will disqualify you. This was a point Dr. Maggi Gunnels from FMCSA has been making over and over in appearances like the webinar Truckers News hosted with her not long ago.

The only thing that has been proposed is to increase the screening for sleep apnea as part of the DOT physical. BMI is only one of the factors a medical examiner will look at in deciding if a driver would need to get tested. If you have sleep apnea you would just need to get the proper treatment to be medically qualified to drive. This is no different than having high blood pressure, diabetes or a host of other common medical issues. There are lots of us driving truck with sleep apnea. I have it.

You cannot lose your job just because you have sleep apnea. There is a law known as the Americans with Disabilities Act. It protects the jobs of anyone with a disability like sleep apnea. The DOT medical guidelines do complicate how the ADA applies to truck drivers. But if you are “under current and effective treatment for sleep apnea” and lose your job just because of having sleep apnea the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will take legal action if you file a complaint.

The BMI sleep apnea issue has lots of truckstop myths and rumors. Let’s try to squash one of them. If you have sleep apnea you will just need to be properly treated. Even if FMCSA was not increasing screening, untreated sleep apnea causes a host of other medical issues that will kill you if not treated.

Bob Stanton

Truckers for a Cause Chapter of A. W. A. K. E. (a support group for truck drivers with sleep apnea)

CVSA backs CSA

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Government and law enforcement agencies at the state and local levels are continuing to be fiscally challenged with respect to resources being made available for highway safety activities. The public — and rightly so — has an expectation that a basic responsibility of government is to keep our citizens traveling the roadways safe and secure. The challenge unfortunately is that, all too often, public safety is one of the first areas of government to be cut when budgets are tight.

Using performance data to reveal which motor carriers and drivers are not complying with safety rules allows inspectors and other law enforcement personnel to more effectively focus on and remove the most unsafe drivers, vehicles and carriers from the nation’s roadways, saving countless lives in the process.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is a strong advocate of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program’s use of performance data to identify the nation’s most high-risk carriers. There is clear evidence that links the CSA Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) and its associated Safety Measurement System (SMS) with increased crash risk. Providing enforcement the ability to use this data is common sense and allows them to keep an eagle eye on those that do not comply.

CSA helps to prioritize carrier interventions through the use of additional metrics more so than in the past, including all safety-based roadside inspection violations, enforcement actions, crash data and violation histories and will update these data more frequently. This is good news as it will allow interventions on high-risk operators to occur sooner than what had been the case in the past, ultimately saving more lives in the process. On August 16, 2010, FMCSA began providing carriers with information about where they stand with the new CSA SMS based on roadside inspection data and investigation findings.

While SafeStat has been an effective safety tool for public and private stakeholders alike — and the data has been publicly available for more than a decade — CSA goes even farther at helping to identify those carriers with the most severe compliance and performance problems and in need of further attention. The CSA effectiveness study has revealed that the SMS high-risk carrier list has identified 25% more high-risk carriers who have been involved in 56% more crashes than was the case with the SafeStat high-risk list.

By implementing CSA, federal and state inspectors and investigators are improving on their ability to proactively address the issues that are most likely to contribute to crashes and cause injuries and deaths related to large truck and bus crashes. The pilot program experience in nine states has shown that we can effectively “reach” more carriers, which is a good thing, and is an improvement over what has been the case in the past. The experience in the pilot states by both enforcement and industry has by and large been very positive. We wholeheartedly applaud FMCSA for their leadership and for being as transparent as they have with CSA and appreciate the level of engagement throughout the development of CSA. They have brought everyone into the tent to create an environment to help promote government, law enforcement and industry’s common goal of saving lives — it has been and will continue to make a difference.

Stephen A. Keppler,

Executive Director

Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance

What do you think of FMCSA’s new hours-of-service proposal?


They have nothing to do with safety. Trucking is a 24-hour-a-day industry. Trying to get a driver to work/sleep when they say just isn’t safe.

— Danny N.

I never understood why truck drivers are told when they can and can not work and are limited to the money that they can make, yet there are law-enforcement people that work a hundred hours a week. They drive and have to use quick judgment when faced with a life and death situation.

— Steven S.

I don’t think it’s the amount of hours driven, it’s when you are used to driving during the day, then the next load you get has to be driven all through the night. That’s when it’s hard not to be driving sleepy. Anyone can drive ten hours. It’s the schedule changes that are dangerous.

— Yvonne D.

Never should’ve messed with it in the first place!

— Nate L.

People can work in a factory around MORE deadly machines and work 50-60 hrs. a week. Yet let’s bang the drivers who supply those factories. Just don’t know anymore. Is there REALLY a system that will work?

— Scott K.

We run team, so it doesn’t hurt us too much but wish we could do the 5 and 5. That was nice.

— David P.

The DOT has problems regulating themselves. Leave it alone. It is working, so why jack with it? Spend that energy fixing the state of our union, world hunger, a cure for cancer — but leave us alone and let us do our job. Stop complicating this.

— Crystal S.

I think it wasn’t well thought out and was just thrown together with no regard to trucking whatsoever. With fuel and the economy in shambles why would you mess with something that is working? There will never be one rule that fits all in this business. All we can hope for now is this gets tied up in courts for years to come.

— David E.

Politicians have reached the point of no return on their insanity. Let’s see how fast the rules get changed when nothing gets delivered.

— Ronnie Q.


New HOS does not guarantee safer roads as the feds would like to think. Safety is the responsibility of a driver, not regulations.

— @JonRHansen

I’m left wondering why did we have these listening sessions no one was going to listen to any truck drivers that spoke before them?

— @blczzz999

Not in favor of the new proposal, especially the 2 midnight to 6 a.m. spans needed for a reset.

— @TrainerPTSI

What’s your favorite website?

“I go to Facebook the most. It’s a great way to keep up with friends and family members when I’m out on the road.”

— Ryan Harter, Camden, Ind., owner-operator leased to T&T Trucking

“I get on Truckers Forum a lot. It’s very informative. And that’s where all of the trucker girls are.”

— Eddie Kimble, Orlando, Fla., driver for Covenant Transport

“I’m a dinosaur kind of guy and don’t use [the Internet] much, but I do get on my email a lot for work stuff.”

— Lenwood Jones, McCall, S.C., driver for Covington Trucking

“I very seldom go on the Internet. Just not enough time out here on the road.”

— Ruth Evans, Jackson, Miss., driver for Tango Transport


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