The National School Transportation Association said 22 House members signed on to a letter to FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro that outlines opposition to federal guidance on obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders for commercial drivers that is expected later this year.
Earlier this month, FMCSA Assistant Administrator Jack Van Steenburg told attendees of the Zonar "ZONE" User Conference in San Antonio that a proposed sleep apnea regulation would be released by the end of the year. NSTA has been among the critics of potential requirement burdens placed on private commercial carriers, such as disqualifying commercial drivers diagnosed with sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. Additionally, NSTA has expressed concern over the possibility of private bus companies being required to test their drivers and pay for those tests as well as resulting treatment.
As a result, NSTA members reached out to congressional members in April during the association's annual spring board meeting and "Bus In" in Washington, D.C. NSTA was able to solicit support from both Democrats and Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Commitee and the House Small Business Committee to sign a letter from Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) to FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.
The letter asked Ferro to utilize a formal rulemaking process, which would require a full cost-benefit analysis plus other economic justifications. NSTA estimates that it would cost the private school bus industry more than $103 million to screen, diagnose and treat school bus drivers who suffer from sleep apnea.
Meanwhile, FMCSA says that sleep apnea and other sleep disorders are responsible for 13 percent of all commercial truck crashes. Currently, individual states adopt their own safety standards for commercial drivers, which may or may not include regulations on sleep apnea.