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Politicians introduce sleep apnea regulations bill

Pennsylvania truck drivers may be interested to learn that Congressional Democrats have urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to resume working on a rule that would provide screening criteria and treatment protocols for sleep apnea. The FMCSA announced that it had tabled the rule in August 2017.

The sleep apnea rule would provide clear criteria for when a driver needs to be referred for in-lab apnea tests. It would also help clarify treatment protocols for medical examiners. Without the rule, medical examiners use a variety of different screening protocols, which has caused major industry-wide confusion. Further, the fact that the process is unregulated makes some drivers wary of referrals as they often see the companies involved in the testing and treatment of the condition as cashing in.

To ease the confusion, bills were filed in both the House and Senate in an effort to force the FMCSA to produce the sleep apnea screening rule for commercial truck drivers. The rule would require the FMCSA to create a concrete list of criteria under which truck drivers would be referred for sleep apnea testing. The rule would also include specific treatment protocols if a truck driver is diagnosed with sleep apnea.

When truck drivers have undiagnosed sleep apnea, they are not getting the sleep they need to safely drive large commercial trucks for long periods of time. While federal trucking regulations are designed to help keep everyone on the road safe, the lack of regulations surrounding sleep apnea cases put both truck drivers and the occupants of passenger vehicles at risk for becoming involved in truck accidents. If a person becomes injured in an accident that was caused by a fatigued truck driver, a personal injury attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against the driver and the company that hired the driver to seek compensation for damages.

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