NRMCA Testifies Before Department of Transportation on Sleep Apnea
Last Wednesday, NRMCA Vice President of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Kevin Walgenbach testified before the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on sleep apnea's affect on mixer truck drivers. The joint FMCSA/FRA listening session, the final of three sessions, was scheduled to gather information from stakeholders on a potential rulemaking on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, including mixer truck drivers.
In March, both FMCSA/FRA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) OSA. While the ANPRM doesn’t establish or propose any new regulations regarding OSA, it does launch somewhat of a fishing expedition for FMCSA on the issue in an attempt to gather information from potential covered stakeholders FMCSA may use to propose new OSA regulations at a later date. The listening sessions continues the FMCSA/FRA efforts.
Walgenbach told officials that NRMCA is currently opposed to any new mandate for OSA screenings. He noted that "the current regulatory framework is sufficient to address drivers with OSA." More pointedly, he stated that in large part there is a great divide between what the current regulations say on medical disorders and how certified medical examiners actually evaluate drivers seeking a medical card to accompany their commercial drivers license. Walgenbach noted "that many different factors can lead to fatigue beyond OSA and many different factors can lead to crashes involving large trucks beyond OSA. To this point we believe that any such regulation will need to be based on sound science, data and comprehensive analysis and, we suggest, likely a pilot program to reasonably evaluate how such a mandate would be practically achieved, enforced and what the accompanying overall costs will truly be."
Problems surrounding the issue regarding medical coverage and the high cost were also mentioned. Walgenbach closed his comments by stating, "if the pitfalls highlighted cannot be avoided and any new rule is NOT based on sound science, any perceived increase in safety will NOT be realized."