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Sleep apnea study proposal by the FMCSA garners mixed opinions

In an effort to reduce serious roadway accidents involving large trucks in Ohio and throughout the U.S., the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a rule that aims to screen truck drivers for sleep apnea. A September 2016 report defines sleep apnea as a medical condition that may cause interruptions in the breathing cycle during sleep. Those suffering from the condition may feel groggy or fatigued while awake.

In partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration, the FMCSA sought public feedback regarding the proposal. The results from the nearly 600 respondents were mixed. Some proponents argued that, since airline pilots are screened for sleep apnea, truck drivers should be held to the same standard.

According to a study sponsored by the FMCSA, about 28 percent of commercial vehicle drivers have sleep apnea. This number does not seem significant enough to some critics to warrant mandatory screenings, which they say could be costly for drivers. While many critics of the proposal agree that driver fatigue is a potential safety problem that should be addressed, they believe that there are more cost-effective solutions, such as allowing drivers to take naps more frequently.

By gaining a further understanding of the major causes of truck accidents and roadway fatalities, the FMCSA hopes to make interstates safer for all drivers. In addition to fatigue, many factors can lead to truck accidents. Those who have been injured on an Ohio road by the driver of a big rig or an 18-wheeler may be entitled to receive compensation from the at-fault driver.

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