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Sleep apnea exam rules challenged in court

For drivers in North Carolina, trucking accidents can be a major worry: These kinds of crashes can lead to devastating serious personal injuries as well as major property damage. One of the biggest concerns about truck driving safety is the danger posed by drowsy drivers who lose attention and control behind the wheel. However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed a motion for a federal appeals court to rehear its claim that sleep apnea guidelines for screening truck drivers were illegally altered.

The association claims that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration violated a 2013 statute prohibiting FMCSA from using guidances to create new regulations for the screening or treatment of sleep apnea in truck drivers. Under the law, the FMCSA must use a rule-making process that includes public notice and comment. The association said that by using a rule change to medical examination forms that include a provision related to sleep apnea, the FMCSA violated the law.

However, the administration said that the provisions made no substantive changes to examination rules for sleep apnea testing and that it referred only to existing guidance for sleep apnea testing referrals that predated the 2013 law. In a January 2018 ruling, a panel of the appeals court agreed with FMCSA; if the full court refuses to hear the case, the association can only go to the Supreme Court.

Sleep apnea is of particular concern because truck drivers who suffer from the disorder fail to get sufficient sleep at night and could be prone to dozing off while driving. Drowsy truck driving can lead to serious accidents that cause significant harm to people and property. Those who have been injured in truck accidents due to a drowsy or otherwise dangerous driver might take action by consulting with a personal injury lawyer. An attorney may be able to help accident victims pursue compensation for their damages.

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