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Trucker Sleep Apnea Guidelines Being Considered

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal agency tasked with oversight of our nation's 18-wheelers. It is the FMCSA's responsibility to create and draft new rules that will help make our roadways safer. The agency has long been concerned with the safety record of drivers and trucking companies, and has created many new rules recently that are focused on reducing the number of serious trucking accidents throughout Texas and the rest of the United States.

But a driver's behavior is just one minor aspect of safe driving. Officials with the FMSCA have now started looking into new rules that may also deal with a truck driver's physical health. The agency is currently examining proposals that could potentially lead to new procedures regarding drivers with sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that can affect the breathing of person that is sleeping. This can lead to a person receiving reduced amounts of oxygen, which may cause to very serious health problems, including strokes or heart attacks.

For truck drivers, this can be especially problematic. Drivers are already on strict hours of service limits, which can make driving long distances dangerous for drivers who did not receive quality rest. Because of the size of the vehicles they are driving, truckers need to be alert and aware each time they are behind the wheel.

Groups have long insisted that drivers be screened for sleep apnea, but the FMSCA has not developed a system for checking for the condition. Additionally, many trucking companies do not know enough about sleep apnea to install their own methods of observation.

Some of the new procedures being checked by the FMSCA involve a body mass index score. Drivers with a score of 35 or higher will be subject to sleep apnea testing. The agency is still looking for input on finding the best procedure that will help eliminate the risks posed by drivers with sleep apnea.

Source: Truckinginfo.com "FMCSA Proposes Guidance for Sleep Apnea" Oliver B. Patton, April 20, 2012.

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