New federal legislation aims to prevent the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from issuing guidance on sleep apnea testing for commercial drivers without going through a formal rulemaking process.
A coalition of organizations, including the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), is advocating for the bill, H.R. 3095, which was introduced by Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Md.) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.).
The bill would require FMCSA to go through a formal notice and comment rulemaking proceeding when issuing guidance on the screening and testing of commercial motor vehicle drivers for obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
“If FMSCA wants to weigh in on this issue, then they should go through the proper rulemaking process,” Bucshon said. “With such tremendous potential costs to the truck and bus industry, it is critical that we include all the stakeholders, including the medical and trucking communities, in any thorough analysis of fatigue-related crashes. This bill will provide an open and transparent process to evaluate both the costs and benefits of any proposed regulations.”
The trucking industry estimates that the impact of screening, diagnosis and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea could exceed $1 billion annually. The impact to the private school bus industry is estimated to be $100 million.
NSTA has called on all of its members to contact their representatives in the House in an effort to secure additional co-sponsors for the legislation.
“The safety record of the school bus industry is unmatched because it is always our top priority," NSTA President Tim Flood said, adding that the association is appreciative of Bucshon and Lipinski's support "in ensuring that FMCSA consider this issue in a comprehensive way, including a cost-benefit analysis, to ensure that any new mandates will actually improve safety."
Several groups were instrumental in developing the legislation: NSTA, the American Trucking Associations, the American Bus Association, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the United Motorcoach Association.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will consider H.R. 3095 in a markup hearing on Thursday.