Sleep Apnea Testing No Longer RequiredSeptember 19, 2017
Officials from the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced that they would no longer require truck drivers and train engineers to undergo sleep apnea testing. They argue that the decision to test employees should be left up to railroads and trucking companies. Those who support the testing are disappointed by the decision, citing the high incidence of sleep apnea among truck drivers, and the danger it exposes them to, as well as others on the road, should they fall asleep at the wheel.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted while they sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, which often occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses while the person is sleeping. When a truck driver suffers from sleep apnea and their sleep is repeatedly interrupted, it can cause chronic drowsiness. Drowsy driving among truckers is a common problem, one that can have serious, and often fatal, consequences.
Dangers of Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesman Christopher O’Neil, obstructive sleep apnea is responsible for 10 highway and rail accidents over the past 17 years. The NTSB believes that sleep apnea is an issue in several other ongoing investigations as well. At a time when the need for testing and stricter rules is greater than ever, the NTSB said the agencies’ decision to scrap the testing requirements is extremely disappointing and potentially dangerous.
Sarah Feinberg, the former administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), also expressed significant concern over the decision, arguing that it puts people at risk. When a truck driver or rail operator suffers from sleep apnea, and that person is responsible for operating a high speed train or a multi-ton truck on a busy highway, it exposes train passengers and other motorists to potentially devastating wrecks. Ensuring that the train operators and truck drivers are well rested can prevent many of these life-threatening accidents.
The current administration nixed the sleep apnea regulation in an effort to drastically reduce federal regulations and give businesses the right to enact their own sleep apnea testing policies. Democratic politicians have said that they will urge the federal agencies to reconsider this decision. According to Feinberg, the government should not rely on the trucking and railroad industries to regulate themselves. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer commented that sleep apnea testing is an effective and necessary way of preventing serious accidents. Too many lives have been lost because of an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Truck Accidents
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We have a proven track record of securing the maximum financial compensation for our clients who have been injured in a truck accident. To schedule a free consultation, do not hesitate to call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent truck accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.