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FMSCA pulls back on sleep apnea regulations for truck drivers

Truck accident lawyer says pull-back by the FMCSA will result in more preventable truck crashes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had recently proposed to toughen its standards for truck drivers who have sleep apnea. But sadly, it looks like it has now caved to pressure from the trucking industry and withdrawn the proposed regulatory guidance for obstructive sleep apnea, according to

The FMCSA had originally proposed to adopt the recommendations of two advisory panels on sleep apnea guidelines. The recommendations advised the FMCSA to require medical examiners to evaluate truck drivers with a body mass index of 35 for sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes a person to stop breathing throughout the night, leading to daytime sleepiness. Many people who are overweight also have sleep apnea. The problem is that truckers with sleep apnea are far more likely to cause a serious truck accident.

I recently wrote about a new safety rule that requires healthcare professionals and doctors who perform medical exams for truck and bus drivers to be trained, tested and certified on the specific physical qualifications that affect the trucker’s ability to safely drive. Our truck lawyers hope that sleep apnea is part of this testing.

But if it were a requirement that truckers of a certain BMI were tested, that would be an extra step — that could be enforced when broken — in preventing truck accidents at the hands of overtired and overweight truckers.

A couple weeks ago, I discussed an Australian sleep study that found that 40 percent of Australian truckers have sleep apnea, and an NPR story that reported that as much as 30 percent of American drivers are believed to have sleep apnea. With statistics showing that overweight truck drivers account for 13 percent of fatal truck accidents, it’s imperative that we have stronger sleep apnea testing and standards for truck drivers.

Steven Gursten is head of Michigan Auto Law and is regarded as one of the top truck accident lawyers in the country. He has received the top-reported jury verdict in Michigan for a truck accident case. Steve was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his work to promote national truck safety.

Related information to protect yourself:

“Fat truckers” v. the FMCSA

Help for attorneys: Unfit truckers causing truck accidents

What you must know about Michigan truck accident cases

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit. Call (800) 777-0028 or to speak with one of our truck accident lawyers today.

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