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Federal Government Will No Longer Pursue Regulations to Address Trucker Sleep Apnea

By: Allan M. Siegel

On Friday, August 4, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it will no longer be pursuing regulations to address obstructive sleep apnea in drivers of commercial trucks and tractor-trailers. Prior to the announcement, the agency was considering ways to better diagnose, screen, and regulate drivers with the sleep disorder.

As we have discussed in a previous blog, truck drivers with sleep apnea are a significant concern for public safety. This is because the condition can disrupt sleeping patterns and lead to daytime fatigue, which can be immensely dangerous when that fatigue affects drivers behind the wheel of the most massive vehicles on our roads. In fact, one study found that drivers with untreated sleep apnea are five times more likely to be involved in serious truck accidents.

Despite the known risks associated with sleep apnea, the federal government is turning a blind eye to the issue, and to recommendations for new sleep apnea rules from the National Transportation Safety Board that have dated back to 2009.

Truck Accident Attorney in Washington, DCDespite Trucking Safety Concerns, New Administration Looks to Loosen Regulations

The announcement to withdraw from developing much-needed rules over sleep apnea is yet another move toward lax regulatory policies under President Donald Trump’s administration. In December, for example, lawmakers were successful in blocking safety rules that required truckers to take two rest breaks between 1:00 am to 5:00 am following a work week. The administration and the trucking industry have also expressed their support for other regulation changes that compromise public safety, including:

  • Increasing weight limits of some commercial vehicles to over 90,000 pounds
  • Increasing trailer length in double-vehicle trailers to 33 feet
  • Halting proposed development of new safety rules
  • Rolling back various safety and transportation regulations

The Trump administration and trucking industry favor lax regulatory policies because they argue that government regulations inhibit business, job creation, and economic growth. This is by no means a new sentiment, as the trucking industry has long leveraged its financial and political influence to pass laws that prioritize profits over the safety of people. However, recent trends like halting the development of sleep apnea rules show that their influence is having an effect on our transportation sector – and it is not a reassuring one for public safety.

As we have seen throughout the years, efforts to reign back trucking regulations significantly compromise the safety of Americans who share roads with commercial trucks and tractor-trailers. As the trucking industry works to protect and build its bottom line, it does so at the expense of innocent people who suffer harm in accidents that could and should have been prevented with commonsense policies. While the trucking industry may gain some support from an administration aligned with its goals, advocates and everyday citizens can still continue to raise awareness and make their voices heard by opposing regulatory rollbacks and pushing for better standards that prioritize safety. To help you stay in the loop with these trends, you can visit our blog on some of the top trucking industry concerns to watch out for this coming year.

As our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. continues to report on issues we believe important to the public, we also continue to offer our support and representation to victims injured in preventable wrecks, including those involving commercial trucks. When truck drivers and trucking companies cause harm through negligence and disregard to public safety, we act as the bold and unwavering voice victims need to secure justice and fair compensation for their damages.

If you have questions about your rights following a truck accident or any other type of motor vehicle accident, contact our firm for a FREE consultation. Our award-winning personal injury lawyers proudly serve residents throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia.