FMCSA advisory commitees announce recommendations on obstructive sleep apnea

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) and the Medical Review Board met jointly on October 24-25 to make recommendations regarding medical qualifications for drivers with obstructive sleep apnea. The MCSAC also reviewed autonomous commercial motor vehicles.

After lengthy debate, the two groups did make a joint recommendation, generally in line with previous FMCSA statements on sleep apnea. Their joint recommendation was that drivers with a Body-Mass Index (BMI) over 40 be immediately disqualified until they undergo a sleep study and are either cleared or treated for sleep apnea. Drivers with BMIs from 33 to 39 should be screened for sleep apnea if they show any three other symptoms of sleep apnea. The exact recommendation will be available soon.

The MCSAC met alone during the discussion on development of autonomous commercial motor vehicles. Most MCSAC members reportedly agreed that autonomous vehicles hold great promise, provided that they are developed in a manner that ensures they will be safe and effective for both the passenger car and commercial motor vehicle populations. 

Committee members agreed that many issues must still be resolved and that autonomous vehicle technology is advancing far faster than government regulators can monitor it. Acting through the American Trucking Associations, National Tank Truck Carriers recommended that FMCSA should take an active role in Department of Transportation discussions regarding autonomous transportation technology, according to Boyd Stephenson, NTTC senior vice-president. 

In this role, FMCSA should act as a watchdog to ensure that these technologies are developed to benefit all members who use the roads, not just passenger car drivers. The motion carried unanimously and without any discussion. 

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