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White House nixes sleep apnea screening requirement for truckers

With truck drivers driving long hours, often without adequate sleep, safety experts and officials are constantly looking for ways to ensure they remain well rested for the sake of all motorists. However, a recent move by the federal government may compromise those efforts.

According to recent NPR report, the Trump administration is rolling back a plan to screen all truck drivers and train engineers for sleep apnea. As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, sleep apnea is a condition that affects not only the driver who has it, but everyone else on the road.

Why screening matters

After a series of serious accidents caused by truck drivers and train engineers with sleep apnea – including a Hoboken rail crash that killed one person and injured more than 100 others – the Obama administration proposed a requirement to test drivers and engineers for sleep apnea.

The condition, which affects the respiratory system, impairs an individual’s quality of sleep. This can manifest in exhaustion or, in more serious cases, falling asleep with little to no warning. It is easy to see how this can be dangerous when an individual is responsible for a large machine moving at high speeds near other people.

A divided response

While safety organizations like the National Transportation Safety Board have decried this rule change, many players in the trucking industry welcome it. Despite having insurance, individual driers are sometimes burdened by the cost of apnea testing and treatment. In addition, some argue that the testing requirement is an unnecessary regulatory hurdle, especially in the precarious trucking industry.

What do you think? Should sleep apnea screening be required for everyone who operates a large vehicle?

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