Tough standards are being proposed for truckers to undergo sleep apnea evaluations in order to identify the medical condition that could cause a driver to become drowsy and cause a truck accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is accepting the recommendations of two advisory boards, The Medical Review Board and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee. The new recommendations include that drivers with a body mass index of more than 35 undergo routine testing for sleep apnea.
The professionals proposing the changes to the FMCSA come from backgrounds in the medical community, the trucking industry and labor and advocate interest groups. The Medical Review Board has advocated the tougher standards since 2008, with the recommendation that drivers be screened. The latest proposals target drivers with the higher BMI, since weight, age and gender are significant factors identified in patients diagnosed with sleep apnea. The higher the BMI, the greater the chance of developing sleep apnea.
The panel members agreed that sleep apnea leads to chronic fatigue, which could cause problems in performance, a lapse of attention, distractibility and slowed reaction times. Any of these resulting problems could cause a truck crash on Colorado or national highways. Research shows that a person with sleep apnea disorder is well more than 200 percent more likely to be involved in a crash.
Treatment for the disorder typically requires a nighttime sleep device be worn that provides airway pressure. The panels urge the agency to adopt the stricter standards and welcomed comments and additional recommendations regarding sleep apnea.
Source: Trucking Info, "FMCSA proposes guidance for sleep apnea," Oliver B. Patton, April 20, 2012