Congressmen Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) for introducing legislation in the House of Representatives to ensure that if the federal government sets standards for sleep apnea screening and testing of professional truck and bus drivers, those standards are established through an informed rulemaking process.
FMCSA officials have indicated they intend to issue guidance as a means of quickly addressing sleep apnea in the professional driver population. Trucking industry groups have expressed strong opposition to that approach.
"ATA (the American Trucking Associations) believes that if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to regulate sleep apnea, it should do so through the normal, established regulatory process rather than through informal guidance," says ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. "The rulemaking process allows for medical experts, the regulated community, including professional drivers, to provide valuable data and input for the agency to consider in developing its regulations. A formal rulemaking will also require an analysis of the benefits and costs of regulating sleep apnea, an analysis not required for the issuance of guidance."
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association added its support for the Congressional action. “The best policy is for the agency (FMCSA) to use the rulemaking already in place rather than side-stepping,” says OOIDA Executive vice-President Todd Spencer. “With the potential cost to trucking running north of $1 billion without proven safety improvement, guidance is not a practice we can support. Small business truckers applaud Representatives Buschon and Lipinski for their efforts on this important issue to truckers and small businesses. HR 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.”
In addition to ATA and OOIDA, Bucshon and Lipinski's bill is supported by the the American Bus Association, the United Motorcoach Association, the National School Transportation Association, and the United Brotherhood of Teamsters.