Trucking Groups Back Sleep Apnea Testing

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, ATA, and others support a bill in Congress that would require a rulemaking for apnea tests.

One of the major problems in commercial transportation, fatigue, could be addressed by a newly introduced congressional bill that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports. OOIDA announced it supports the bill introduced by Reps. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., and Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., that would require an FMCSA rulemaking and full industry cost analysis for apnea tests, and the American Trucking Associations and International Brotherhood of Teamsters also favor a rulemaking.

"The best policy is for the [FMCSA] to use the rulemaking process already in place, rather than side-stepping it," said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. "With the potential cost to trucking running north of $1 billion without the proven safety improvement, guidance is not a practice we can support."

"ATA believes that if the [agency] wants to regulate sleep apnea, it should do so through the normal, established regulatory process rather than through informal guidance," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.

FMCSA has been developing guidance for state medical examiners about which drivers should be tested, and the trucking groups want a say in that process, the groups say. "The rulemaking process allows for medical experts, the regulated community, including professional drivers, to provide valuable data and input," Graves said.

Other organizations in support include the American Bus Association, the United Motor Coach Association, and the Private School Bus operators. "Small-business truckers applaud Representatives Bucshon and Lipinski for their efforts on this important issue to truckers and to small businesses," said Spencer. "H.R.3095 is common-sense legislation that has the support of the entire industry. That fact alone should send a strong signal that anything FMCSA does regarding sleep apnea should absolutely consider the costs such a policy will pass on to truckers, especially more experienced and safer drivers."

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