Proposal on sleep apnea recommendations made … then withdrawn

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Updated Apr 23, 2012

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Thursday, April 19, announced its proposal to adopt recommendations from the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and the Medical Review Board on obstructive sleep apnea and the medical certification of commercial motor vehicle drivers. The agency later withdrew the proposal, saying it is “still in the process of carefully reviewing the recommendations.”

The MCSAC and the MRB are FMCSA advisory committees and operate in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. At the agency’s request, the committees deliberated and provided their finalized recommendations to FMCSA on Feb. 6. Both groups see the recommendations as the next step toward a rulemaking.

According to the committees, the agency should tell medical examiners that drivers with a body mass index of 35 or more must be evaluated for sleep apnea. The recommendations also provide situations that should lead to immediate disqualification of a driver, such as a fatigue-related crash or falling asleep at the wheel, pending evaluation and treatment for sleep apnea. A medical examiner may approve a 60-day conditional card during evaluation and treatment.

The agency initially proposed to adopt the recommendations as regulatory guidance after reviewing and evaluating comments received from the public. “The initial publication was a clerical error,” FMCSA said in its explanation for withdrawing the proposal. “We anticipate requesting public comment on the recommendations later this year.”