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Trump Administration Won’t Reconsider Sleep Apnea Screening Rule Intended to Reduce Fatigue-Related Truck and Bus Crashes

Truck Accident Lawyer | 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer | Zehl & Associates

Nearly a year after the Trump Administration scrapped a proposed sleep apnea screening rule designed to prevent fatigue-related train, bus, and truck accidents, the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has indicated that his agency won’t be rethinking that decision anytime soon.

“It’s up to examiners to determine whether [drivers] exhibit factors of OSA,” FMSCA chief Ray Martinez said during a May 22nd hearing of the U.S. House of Representative Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“That’s where we stand right now. We are relying on the medical training of the doctors and medical professionals that currently do the medical evaluations of drivers.”

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Recently Cited in Deadly Truck, Bus, and Train Crashes

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, affects an estimated 22 million Americans.

The disorder causes breathing to stop periodically while an individual is asleep, robbing sufferers of much-needed rest and greatly increasing the likelihood that they will fall asleep at the wheel.

In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently identified obstructive sleep apnea as a probable cause in 10 highway and rail accidents in just the past 17 years.

Most recently, the disorder was cited in a horrific crash involving a tour bus and an 18-wheeler that killed 13 people outside of Palm Springs, California in October 2016, as well as two  New York-area commuter train crashes that killed one person and injured more than 200 others.

Driver fatigue may also have contributed to a Greyhound bus accident in Utah that tragically killed a teenage girl last New Year’s Eve.

Proposed Rule Set Exact Criteria for Sleep Apnea Screening Referrals

While  Part 392.3 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations specifically prohibits ill or fatigued drivers from operating a commercial motor vehicle, there is no rule requiring that they be tested for sleep apnea.

Instead, it’s up to medical examiners to refer a commercial driver for sleep apnea testing if they present with certain risk factors, such as a high Body Mass Index.

The now-abandoned sleep apnea screening rule was proposed by the Obama Administration in 2016 and would have set exact criteria for medical examiners to use in making testing referrals.

However, the FMSCA withdrew that proposal last August as part of the Trump Administration’s campaign to roll-back supposedly burdensome and unnecessary regulations.

Curiously, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) continues to require sleep apnea screening for private and commercial airplane pilots.

“It … makes no sense to me that one DOT agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, is taking what appears to be a reasonable approach for obstructive sleep apnea [while the other agencies withdrew the proposals],” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said earlier this year. “I’m not sure why there’s a difference within DOT modal agencies.”

Our Undefeated Accident Lawyers Have Won Some of the Largest Settlements and Verdicts in Cases Involving Driver Fatigue and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Our attorneys have won record-setting verdicts and settlements for clients injured in connection with fatigue-related bus and truck crashes.

For example, we recently negotiated a $6 million settlement on behalf of several Greyhound Bus passengers who were injured in a rollover crash after their driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Greyhound maintained that a “sudden medical” episode had caused the driver to pass out.

However, we were able to obtain the first-ever court-ordered sleep study of a commercial driver, confirming that the Greyhound bus driver actually suffered from undiagnosed Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea and likely fell asleep while driving.

The recovery – which stands as the largest settlement involving driver fatigue in Greyhound’s corporate history –  was widely covered by CBS Morning News and other major news outlets throughout the United States.

Contact Our Undefeated Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or CLICK HERE

Having won more than $1 Billion for our clients, including hundreds of people injured or tragically killed in motor vehicle accidents throughout Texas, Louisiana, and the United States, our attorneys have the resources and skills to hold negligent bus and trucking companies accountable and ensure our clients recover full compensation for all of their injuries and losses.

If you or someone you love were hurt in connection with a bus or truck crash, and you have questions about your legal rights and options, please call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.

All consultations are free and, since we work exclusively on a contingency-fee basis, you’ll owe nothing unless we win your case.