Arizona truck drivers may be aware that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tabled a rule that would have regulated sleep apnea screening criteria and treatment in mid-2017. In late September, Congressional Democrats in both the House and the Senate introduced bills that would force the FMCSA to create a sleep apnea screening rule.
The rule would set industry-wide criteria that medical examiners would use to refer truck drivers for sleep apnea testing. As of October, medical examiners had to rely on many different sets of sleep apnea screening criteria to determine if a truck driver needed a referral for a sleep apnea test. This policy created confusion and, in some cases, caused unwanted referrals from drivers. Due to the lack of consistent sleep apnea screening materials, some drivers felt that the testing companies and the companies that manufactured the sleep apnea devices were taking advantage of the lack of standards in the sleep apnea rule.
If the bill is passed and the FMCSA does create regulations on the sleep apnea referral criteria, medical examiners would only use one set of criteria to make decisions. Carrier employers and the truck drivers themselves would also be able to understand the criteria being used for sleep apnea referrals.
When truck drivers have untreated sleep apnea, they may not get the full night of sleep they need before heading back out on the road. This could cause them to fall asleep while driving, potentially causing serious motor vehicle accidents. Because the occupants of passenger vehicles are not as protected as the truck drivers, they could suffer traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding and broken bones. A personal injury attorney may file a lawsuit on behalf of the injured parties against the truck driver and the employer. The injured party may be able to recover the cost of their medical expenses and other damages.