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 The Trump administration has withdrawn or delayed hundreds of proposed regulations since he took office in January — moves the president has said will help bolster economic growth.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.