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Legislators seek to revive sleep apnea rule

After a possible rule on obstructive sleep apnea testing criteria for referral for truck drivers was tabled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, legislators in both the House and the Senate have introduced bills to push the FMCSA to establish the rule and administer it in Oklahoma and around the country. The lack of clear criteria has led to confusion about what criteria to use and concern over sleep apnea testing and treatment companies as well as doctors taking advantage of the uncertainty to make money.

Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to drowsy and distracted driving. Distracted driving is a factor in many truck accidents that result in injuries that can sometimes be fatal. Sleep apnea testing is one attempt to help prevent such accidents. However, there are currently a few sets of criteria available and doctors use one of these sets to determine if a driver should be referred for sleep apnea testing and treatment. Some drivers feel that they did not deserve referrals. A formal rule would determine what criteria should be used for referral and what type of treatment should be followed, providing clarity for the industry.

Sen. Corey Booker from New Jersey introduced the bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer from New York and Sen. Robert Menendez from New Jersey. In the House, the bill was introduced by Rep. Bill Pascrell from New Jersey and co-sponsored by Rep. Albio Sires, also from New Jersey.

Anything that will cut down on the number of accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers is to be praised, but sleep apnea is not the only reason why truckers nod off at the wheel. People who have been injured in these types of accidents might want to meet with an attorney in order to determine how best to proceed when seeking compensation for their losses.