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Sleep apnea screening criteria for truckers will not change

California truck drivers will not be subject to a new set of screening criteria for sleep apnea. On August 4, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a notice that it would withdraw an initiative that dealt with these screening requirements. The agency had worked on the rule throughout 2016 in an effort to standardize criteria for sleep apnea screening. There were several meetings and listening sessions held throughout the country, and the agency also sought input from industry organizations.

Recommendations were for drivers with a BMI of at least 33 and risk factors such as being older than 42 or drivers with a BMI of at least 40 to be screened for sleep apnea. However, up to 40 percent of drivers may have been required to undergo the screening at significant cost to themselves. Ultimately, the FMCSA said that it was unable to collect enough data to make the change.

The criteria for sleep apnea screening will remain the same as it has been since January 2015. This asks medical examiners to refer drivers if there is reason to believe that sleep apnea may affect the driver's ability to operate safely. However, this standard has drawn criticism as well because it is vague and medical examiners' criteria may vary.

Whether or not the driver fatigue is caused by sleep apnea, a driver who causes an accident due to falling asleep at the wheel may be responsible for serious injuries to other drivers and their passengers, cyclists, pedestrians and others. While the insurance company should cover the medical expenses of these injured people, the compensation might not be enough. An injured person may want to file a civil lawsuit against the driver and the company the driver was working for. If a court determines the driver was negligent, there could be more compensation.

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