FMCSA and FRA announced three public listening sessions to be held on May 12, 17, and 25, 2016, to solicit information on the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in highway and rail transportation, and of its potential consequences for the safety of rail and highway transportation. FMCSA and FRA (collectively “the Agencies”) also request information on potential costs and benefits from possible regulatory actions that address the safety risks associated with motor carrier and rail transportation workers in safety sensitive positions who have OSA. The listening sessions will provide interested parties an opportunity to share their views and any data or analysis on this topic with representatives of both Agencies.
Highly prioritized concerns during the May 12 session included the cost of sleep studies for drivers and locomotive engineers, the failure of most safety-sensitive transportation employees with apnea to use their CPAP machines and ensuring that any apnea mandates consider safety benefits over costs and driver health.
Megan Bush, manager of safety policy for American Trucking Associations told regulators, “Though OSA treatment holds promise to improve driver health, the agency should be reminded its role is to improve safety, and not driver health.” “FMCSA is prohibited from imposing rules that would have a deleterious impact on driver health, but the role is not to promulgate rules that improve it.”
James Edwards who is a Washington-based representative of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies said, “The process [of getting treated for OSA] is inconvenient, costly, intrusive and disrupts a driver’s livelihood.”
As ASBA members, we need to provide input on how it is important to driver and public safety to be treated for OSA. If you are unable to attend the hearings, a great opportunity to weigh in and share your expertise with influential policy makers is to go to www.regulations.gov. Search separately for docket numbers FMCSA-2015-0419 and FRA-2015-0111.
- Present your credentials and relevant experience.
- Be concise and support your claims.
- Use scientific evidence from dental sleep medicine. Include scientific studies on oral appliance therapy and your own experience as an expert. There is the ability to upload documents that support your position.
- Address trade-offs and opposing views.
- Include the costs and benefits to patients of your approach. It is especially important for oral appliance therapy to address costs and compliance.
- Do not attempt any perceived commercialization for your product of services
- Comments are not votes, but one well supported comment is more influential than a thousand form letters.DEADINE FOR COMMENTS IS JUNE 8, 2016, 11:59 pm ET.DO NOT let this opportunity pass us by. If we don’t impress our views on the rule-makers, years will pass before we can have this chance again.
The May 17, 2016, session will be held at the Marriott Courtyard Chicago Downtown/River North, 30 E. Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60611.
The final session will be held on May 25, 2016, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites, 404 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071. Learn more about the sessions at at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/calendar and www.fra.dot.gov/.