Sleep apnea bill affecting truckers passes House
A bill requiring the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's final ruling on sleep apnea has passed through the House by a unanimous vote and will now be considered by the Senate.
If made law, the bill would "ensure that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of individuals operating commercial motor vehicles for sleep disorders is adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding" by FMCSA.
Authored by Republican Rep. Larry Bucshon, H.R. 3095 was introduced on Sept. 12.
“If FMSCA wants to weigh in on sleep apnea, then they should go through the proper, transparent rule making process,” Bucshon said in a statement. “With such tremendous potential costs to the truck and bus industry, it is critical that we include all the stakeholders, including medical professionals and the trucking community, in any thorough analysis of fatigue-related crashes. I am pleased that the House passed H.R. 3095 with overwhelming support and I look forward to the Senate continuing this effort.”
The Airforwarders Association is one of the many agencies that has come out in support of the bill.
"For the cargo they handle, the majority of air freight forwarders depend on trucking during at least some part of the journey from shipper to receiver, and many of our members operate trucks themselves," Brandon Fried, the association's head, said in a statement. "While we believe that keeping highways safe is critical for many reasons, this particular regulatory action could have enormous financial impact on our industry and we think it is only fair that there be transparency and opportunity to for our input in the process."
When the bill passed through committee on Sept. 19, the American Trucking Associations heralded the development. ATA's stance is that testing for sleep apnea could cost the industry $1 billion, and if that kind of an expense is to be undertaken, FMCSA should take a good, hard look into the issue.
“If our industry is to be burdened with such a cost, then the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration owes it to trucking to conduct a full and thorough rulemaking, including collection of scientific data and a cost-benefit analysis," ATA President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Graves said at the time.
Taking notice of the bill's passage to the full House, the FMCSA said it will address the issue through a formal rule making.
“FMCSA will issue a notice to address obstructive sleep apnea," the agency said, "through the formal rulemaking process after collecting and analyzing the necessary data and research."
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