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Sleep Apnea Gets 11 Recommendations by the FMCSA

TodaysTrucking.com released a news article earlier today detailing eleven new recommendations that have been issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pertaining to large commercial vehicle drivers and sleep apnea. These recommendations come in light of a joint meeting that was conducted this past week involving the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and the Medical Review Board.

The eleven recommendations contain various provisions and requirements, such as requiring all commercial vehicle drivers’ license holders who maintain a body mass index measurement (BMI) of 35 or higher be tested for sleep apnea. Our Chicago accident lawyers learned that an acceptable method of treatment for sleep apnea in truck drivers is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines.

However, any further rulemaking or guidance based on the eleven recommendations for large commercial vehicle drivers with sleep apnea – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will open up these issues for public comment. Overall, our accident attorneys in Chicago read that rulemaking on this issued will take numerous years to develop. Meanwhile, while the United States is deciding on potential legislation dealing with this severely controversial and discussed issue, the Canadian Trucking Alliance is preparing a sleep apnea testing pilot program that will be implemented in the spring.

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute defines sleep apnea as a disorder in which an individual who suffers from the condition displays one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breathes during sleep. This condition ultimately results in poor sleep quality that makes the individual who suffers from sleep apnea to be extremely fatigued during the day. Sleep apnea continues to remain one of the primary leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.

If a large commercial vehicle driver suffers from sleep apnea and does not receive treatment for the condition, the results can be extremely hazardous – both for the individual sufferer, as well as, other vehicles traveling on the roadway with the driver. A recent study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revealed that as least 28 percent of all commercial drivers’ license holders suffer from sleep apnea.

An additional study by the FMCSA showed that drivers who operated with untreated sleep apnea performed significantly worse on tests than healthy subjects who were alert but had a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the federal limit for operating a large commercial vehicle.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an Illinois trucking accident due to truck driver fatigue or sleep apnea, please contact an experienced Chicago accident lawyer at Levin & Perconti to see what legal rights and relief may be available to you.