FMCSA to Co-Host Listening Sessions on Sleep Apnea

April 27, 2016

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will co-host three listening sessions with the Federal Railroad Administration to solicit information on the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in the trucking and rail industries.

Focusing on moderate to severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the sessions will focus on individuals occupying safety-sensitive positions in highway and rail transportation and discuss the potential consequences for safety, costs and benefits from regulatory actions that could address the safety risks associated with the condition.

The listening sessions are intended to provide interested parties with an opportunity to share their views on the topic with representatives of both agencies, along with any supporting data or analysis they may have to offer.

Obstructive sleep apnea is seen as a safety concern in the trucking industry because it can cause fatigue and result in drowsy driving. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea is a common disorder, usually chronic, in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing or takes shallow breaths while asleep. The breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound. The condition disrupts sleep in such a way that the sufferer will move out of deep and light sleep. That results in poor-quality sleep, which makes for daytime fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness.

The three scheduled listening sessions will take place in three different cities:

  • Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 12, 2016, at the National Association of Home Builders, 1201 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005
  • Chicago, Ill., on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at the Marriott Courtyard Chicago Downtown/River North, 30 E. Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60611; and
  • Los Angeles, Calif., on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites, 404 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071.

The sessions will run from 10 a.m. to noon and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. local time. If all interested parties have had the opportunity to comment, the sessions may conclude early.

FMCSA and FRA will transcribe all comments and place the transcripts into dockets for consideration. The agencies will webcast the entire proceedings of all three meetings.


  1. 1. Steve P [ April 28, 2016 @ 05:05AM ]

    The FMCSA holds Listening sessions buy WHY they Never Listen. Just B S

  2. 2. Miles S. [ April 28, 2016 @ 08:35AM ]

    So...the FMCSA has been looking into sleep apnea for quite some time. They are pushing for a rule to have every operator to have a sleep assessment done. Who's paying for that? I know people who have the sleep apnea, in is NOT cheap to have a sleep study done. We are talking thousands of dollars to have one done. With the BS healthcare that everyone is saddled with now, insurance most likely not pay for the study because you haven't met your $7500 deductible.
    Is the FMCSA looking to have sleep studies done or are they looking to include an "evaluation" performed during DOT physicals that drivers have to have every two years? If so, it is just a series of questions along with a BMI calculation? As far as the BMI calculation is concerned, it is crap unless you are screened by experts in the field because you need to take bone density and muscle mass in to account in order to accurately calculate BMI. A driver can be built like a bulldog with high muscle and bone density and be considered to be overweight or obese according to how the calculation is performed with some simple math. BMI= (body weight (pounds) X height (inches) square) divided by 703.
    On another note, not everyone that is obese or overweight has sleep apnea. Higher BMI just puts you at a higher risk, but is not an end all. So, when that driver has gone through all the paces and jumped through all the hoops and is found not to have sleep apnea, who is paying for all the medical testing and analysis that the driver is subjected too? This stuff is not cheap. Is the driver going to have to pony up the cash or is the FMCSA going to reimburse him or his company for unnecessary testing?
    Falling asleep at the wheel or being drowsy is absolutely a danger in this industry. But where do we draw the line on how much money is doled out for rules and regulations that the FMCSA is trying to push? When will it be enough? I'm thinking that the regulatory agencies need to be regulated themselves.

  3. 3. JO [ April 28, 2016 @ 10:31AM ]

    A little hint when you go to be examined for sleep apnea; don't ask the person doing the assessment how they like their CPAP machine. When the person said they don't use a machine I asked why, they meet the same criteria I do. I told them that if sleep apnea was an issue for the person who delivers the bandages it should be an issue for the person who puts on the bandages. Sometimes medical people can be so sensitive.

  4. 4. JPMINN [ April 28, 2016 @ 01:47PM ]

    Steve P, you hit the nail right on the head. I agree 100% with you. The only reason they are doing these "listening" sesssions is becuase they have to.
    I guess it doesn't matter that I have been hit twice by drivers in 4 wheelers who guess what? Fell asleep at the wheel, drifted into my lane and hit me.
    I guess that doesn't count.

  5. 5. Miles S. [ April 30, 2016 @ 07:58AM ]

    I'm sorry, there is a correction to the BMI calculation. I typed it out wrong. The actual formula is BMI=(body weight (pounds) x 703) / Height (inches) squared.


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