Feds killing Obama plan to require sleep apnea test for truck, train drivers

Feds killing Obama plan to require sleep apnea test for truck, train drivers
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The Trump administration is killing an Obama-era plan to require truck drivers and train operators to take a test to determine if they suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that causes dangerous daytime drowsiness.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are no longer pursuing the regulation, which would require all rail and trucking companies to test drivers for the disorder, which has been blamed for deadly crashes in the United States.

“It’s very hard to argue that people aren’t being put at risk,” Sarah Feinberg, a former FRA administrator, told the AP about the decision to abandon plans to implement the rule. “We cannot have someone who is in that condition operating either a train going 70 mph or operating a multi-ton truck traveling down the interstate. It’s just not an appropriate level of risk to be exposing passengers and the traveling public to.”

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In a statement, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stressed the dangers of sleep apnea and told the AP that it was disappointed the agency had scrapped “much-needed rulemaking.”

“Obstructive sleep apnea has been in the probable cause of 10 highway and rail accidents investigated by the NTSB in the past 17 years and obstructive sleep apnea is an issue being examined in several, ongoing, NTSB rail and highway investigations,” spokesman Christopher O’Neil told the AP.

Democrats quickly spoke out against the administration’s move to kill the regulation. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference Tuesday that he will push agencies to implement the rule, according to the AP.

“We know from recent examples that if there had been testing for sleep apnea there would be people alive walking the face of the earth today who are not, unfortunately, because the engineer had sleep apnea,” Schumer said Tuesday.

A spokesman for the FRA told the AP that the agency collected information about sleep apnea, and that he “believes that current railroad and FRA safety programs sufficiently address this risk.”