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.