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DOT Decision to Withdraw Rulemaking Disappoints National Transportation Safety Board

August 17, 2017

The National Transportation Safety Board has said the agency is "disappointed" with the he Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration decision to withdraw the proposed rule which they published in March of 2016. The rule was in relation to screening commercial truck drivers and train engineers for sleep apnea. The Agencies received more than 700 comments from individuals, medical professionals, labor groups, and transportation industry stakeholders. The Agencies also received comments from the National Transportation Safety Board and three members of Congress, the Honorable Anna Eshoo, the Honorable Sam Farr, and the Honorable Michael M. Honda.

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that can cause daytime drowsiness, impaired decision making and reaction times and an altered mood, which all can have negative effects on transportation employees during the time they are operating vehicles. According to the Associated Press, "The agencies argue that it should be up to railroads and trucking companies to decide whether to test employees. One railroad that does test, Metro-North in the New York City suburbs, found that 11.6 percent of its engineers have sleep apnea."  There are low cost tests to screen for sleep apnea and effective treatment options that reduce the risk of railway and highway accidents. Evidence suggests that improved rules and regulations would make for safer roads.



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