Earlier this year on our Fayetteville, North Carolina, personal injury law blog, we discussed one woman’s fight to raise awareness of the need for stricter state and federal laws governing the trucking industry.
In particular, the woman and other safety advocates called for laws that would help to reduce the number of truck drivers who hit the roads while drowsy. The North Carolina woman experienced the consequences of driver fatigue first-hand. Her husband was killed in a truck accident last year after a truck driver fell asleep while on the road and crashed into the car the woman’s husband was driving.
Last month, it appeared that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was close to proposing new laws that would have required overweight truck drivers in the U.S. to be tested for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is likely to lead to chronic fatigue because people with the condition do not rest well. That lack of energy could lead to performance and safety problems on the road. However, the FMCSA later reported that it has not yet made any decisions to enforce the proposed guidelines.
While the FMCSA has not made any commitments to enforce new regulations that could help to prevent drowsing driving in the trucking industry, it did report that it has not completely abandoned the regulations that have been recommended by two of its advisory panels. The agency said that it is still reviewing the recommendations.
The proposed guidelines are designed to provide additional criteria for the immediate disqualification of a truck driver, a step that is likely to reduce the number of drowsy-driving truck accidents on our state’s and nation’s roads. The recommendations include removing any driver from his or her job who falls asleep while driving or experiences a fatigue-related crash. That person would also be required to undergo medical assessment for sleep apnea.
Additionally, the guidelines would make it mandatory for any commercial truck driver with a body mass index of 35 or higher to be screened for sleep apnea because the condition is linked to obesity, according to medical professionals.
Source: Truckinginfo, “FMCSA Proposes Guidance for Sleep Apnea,” Oliver B. Patton, April 20, 2012