Of­fi­cials can­cel plan to screen truck driv­ers for sleep ap­nea


Of­fi­cials are aban­don­ing plans to re­quire sleep ap­nea screen­ing for truck driv­ers and train en­gi­neers, a de­ci­sion that safety ex­perts say puts mil­lions of lives at risk.

The Fed­eral Rail­road Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FRA) and the Fed­eral Mo­tor Car­rier Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion said late last week that they no longer are pur­su­ing the reg­u­la­tion that would re­quire test­ing for the fa­tigue-in­duc­ing dis­or­der that has been blamed for deadly rail crashes in New York City and New Jer­sey, and in sev­eral high­way crashes.

The agen­cies ar­gue that it should be up to rail­roads and truck­ing com­pa­nies to de­cide whether to test em­ploy­ees. One rail­road that does test, Metro-North in the New York City sub­urbs, found that 11.6 per­cent of its en­gi­neers have sleep ap­nea.

The de­ci­sion to kill the sleep ap­nea reg­u­la­tion is the lat­est step in Pres­i­dent Trump’s cam­paign to dras­ti­cally slash fed­eral reg­u­la­tions. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has with­drawn or de­layed hun­dreds of pro­posed reg­u­la­tions since he took of­fice in Jan­uary — moves the pres­i­dent has said will help bol­ster eco­nomic growth.

Late last year, the FRA is­sued a safety ad­vi­sory that was meant as a stop­gap mea­sure urg­ing rail­roads to be­gin sleep ap­nea test­ing while the rules made their way through the leg­isla­tive process. With­out a reg­u­la­tion man­dat­ing test­ing, which would have needed ap­proval from Congress, reg­u­la­tors couldn’t cite truck­ing com­pa­nies or rail­roads if a truck or train crashed be­cause the op­er­a­tor fell asleep at the helm.

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