Advocates’ Statement on Sleep Apnea Legislation

  • September 29, 2017
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


September 29, 2017

Contact: Eric Naing 202-408-171, cell: 217-493-8294,




Legislation Provides a Course Correction to Proceed with the Sleep Apnea Screening Rule and Protect Truck and Bus Drivers and All Motorists –

Mandatory Screening and Treatment Will Save Lives 

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) commends Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), as well as Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) for introducing commonsense legislation (S. 1883/H.R. 3882) that would require obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) screenings and treatment for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. Last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) abandoned its duty to ensure public safety when it withdrew a rule, which was already underway, requiring OSA screenings for CMV drivers. That decision is especially egregious considering that the number of truck crashes, fatalities, and injuries is excessively high and on the rise. Medical experts, fellow federal regulators, and even the FMCSA’s own advisory committees all agree on the urgent need to screen CMV drivers for OSA. Advocates, together with families of truck crash victims and survivors, thank the bill sponsors for their leadership and commitment to restore this critical rulemaking.

Many large truck drivers are pushed to work long shifts with irregular schedules and often without adequate sleep. OSA is a serious medical condition that, when left untreated, contributes to driver fatigue, a well-known and well-documented safety hazard. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has frequently cited fatigue as a contributor to truck crashes and included reducing fatigue on both the 2016 and 2017/2018 Most Wanted List of safety changes. Moreover, drivers suffering from OSA who are not properly treated are more prone to fatigue and, alarmingly, have higher crash rates than the general driving population, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed and 116,000 people were injured in large truck crashes. Worse yet, large truck crash deaths have gone up 20 percent since 2009 and injuries have increased by 57 percent. This is clearly a large-scale public health problem that demands swift action. The legislation steers the FMCSA back in the right direction

Experts agree on the need to identify and treat OSA-afflicted drivers. In 2012, the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and its Medical Review Board said drivers with a body mass index of 35 or greater are more likely to suffer from OSA and suggested that they undergo an objective evaluation for the condition. Similarly, the Federal Aviation Administration considers OSA to be a disqualifying condition for pilots unless properly treated. Yet, the FMCSA cast aside these clear and compelling safety concerns and wrongly withdrew this important rule.

Advocates commends Senators Booker (D-NJ), Schumer (D-NY), Gillibrand (D-NY), and Menendez (D-NJ), as well as Representatives Pascrell (D-NJ) and Sires (D-NJ) for prioritizing the safety of truck drivers and all motorists sharing the roads with them. Truck driving continues to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S., but it need not be. This legislation will help to ensure that drivers with OSA receive the treatment they need and curb needless crashes involving tired truckers.