Driver Sleep Apnea Testing Bill Proposed In House


A new bill is being introduced in the house that would stop the FMCSA from being able to mandate formal sleep apnea screening regulation without first doing research or allowing the regulations to be challenged. The bill would force the FMCSA to define any changes as “rule changes” instead of “guidance” which would force them to go through a standard rule-making process.

The bill is supported by OOIDA, the ATA, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and other trucking and commercial vehicle interest groups.

“The best policy is for the [FMCSA] to use the rulemaking process already in place, rather than side-stepping it,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “With the potential cost to trucking running north of $1 billion without the proven safety improvement, guidance is not a practice we can support.”

OOIDA and other groups supporting the bill are looking to make sure that the FMCSA will be forced to listen to expert advice from physicians, researchers, and drivers themselves. Also, since carriers will be the ones whose employment screening processes will change, the ATA has stated that trucking companies will want to be able to give some input on any regulation that may come about.

“ATA believes that if the [agency] wants to regulate sleep apnea, it should do so through the normal, established regulatory process rather than through informal guidance,” said ATA President Bill Graves.


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47 comments. Add a comment.

  1. says

    I went un-diagnosed with sleep apnea for years before finally getting a CPAP machine and it’s been great for me ! Like coming out of a fog. However, it seems the medical community has latched on to sleep apnea and sleep studies/CPAP machines as a sure-fire money maker and are happy to diagnose about anyone with sleep apnea now. And on some level I suppose they are required to diagnose and prescribe anyone who might benefit from a CPAP. What would happen if they told someone they didn’t have apnea and need a machine and then they wrecked ? Would they be liable ? And also why would they want to pass up making money on the sleep study or CPAP sale or rental ? The deck is stacked for over-diagnosis, they have all the incentives to put as many people on machines as possible, with no incentive not to. It’s become a racket. But again, I have mixed feelings because before I had my machine I would have to stop and take naps all the time, I would sleep sometimes for 8 or 10 hours and still not be rested. Now I am alert and sleep normally, I can even get by on 4 or 6 hours here and there if I need too or choose too. I enjoy life more and I would hope that anyone who could enjoy the benefits of CPAP therapy would get it and not be afraid of being diagnosed.

    • Thomas Buffington says

      I agree! I got my CPAP a year ago and it has changed my life. it seems that Doctors are still not up to speed on this, they first diagnosed my as depressed.

  2. Kevin says

    Face it, this is another government sponsored money grab at the expense of truckers. If you snore you have sleep apnea, if you toss and turn you have sleep apnea, if you don’t you have sleep apnea. Personally I think everyone in government needs to be tested for drugs, cause these people are stoned!!!

    If sleep apnea is such a major issue, everyone in the country should be tested, not just truckers. Airline pilots, air traffic controllers, police, doctors, politicians, firemen, ambulance drivers, food service workers, etc… Everyone should be tested I guess, and with Obama care, I guess we all will be little lab rats.

    Gonna be awful hard for me to.sleep, I can’t sleep on my back, or.with anything on my face. Must be sleep apnea!!!

    • Rowe Jr says

      Kevin you hit it right on! That’s exactly what this is about, couldn’t agree with you more. I’m so sick of policies designed to hurt the trucker pretending to be out to help. The industry has dragged us over the coals long enough! Now stop with the money grab and let us make a penny. Cut out this sleep apnea bull!

    • Larry says

      Anyone that operates a commercial vehicle that has been tested positive with sleep apnea are required to use a cpap or bipap and that includes air line pilots, bus drivers etc. Even the 4 wheelers should be tested, we see many of them running off of the roads as well but i guess its ok if they kill someone not the same as operating a 80,000 lb truck that could kill several people.

  3. Cory says

    I was diagnosed last year with sleep apnea… Personally I’ve gotten used to wearing the mask but I do feel the way the do it is wrong. I didn’t notice difference in the way I slept or feel every morning but I have to wear one anyways. When I was tested my local doctor told me that my apnea was very minor almost non existent but my carrier didn’t accept it and told me I needed a machine anyway. I hope this will help the new guy coming into future testing and hopefully requirements change

  4. David Atkins says

    Drivers you don’t need to wear a mask, your tired because your bored of driving your slow a** trucks, company’s got your trucks turned down so low, like Prime for example, 57 mph, … Seriously?? That’s not only boring but dangerous too, another reason you might be tired, is because the FMCSA adding a 30 minute stop to just sit there and state off into space? Like how is that going to help you? If they want to do something useful, let drivers split their drive time up like they used to do back in the day b4 government started making changes to anything, u used to be able to drive 10 hours and sleep for 8, and when u split it up u could drive 5 hours and sleep for 4, I used to drive that way all the time. But I usually slept for 5 instead of 4 because I enjoyed the extra hour of sleep, not because I had to but because I didn’t drive tired, but now, they increased the time to 11 hrs driving and 10 hrs sleeping, and that is fine too, mut for many drivers they can’t drive 11 strait hours with out stopping for a break, so they do, and guess what because u stopped and slept because you were tired… Guess what your not going to be able to drive very far today, because you screwed up, they so however allow u to split up your sleep time I think it’s 8 and 3 or 8 and 2?? I don’t know because it’s dumb, and makes no sense, nobody sleeps like that, I run paper logs because when I’m tired I sleep, when I’m not tired, I’m driving, Govenment, please don’t make changes to driving unless you have spent 5 – 10 years over the road yourself, it should be a law just like you can’t become a judge in a court system without having some sort of background studying Law, we don’t tell you how to do your job, but now we need to start, you really need to stop telling Truck Drivers how to do ours, “We are Professional Drivers” and deserve to be treated as such! See how the world works with out us, Drivers we need to make a stand!! Check out Facebook, or search google “Truckers to Shut Down America” help us to make a real change in the trucking world, October 11th thru Oct 15th! Lets all go on strike! Make a picket and meet at your local truckstop on things you would like to see changed!! Thank you Drivers for all you do.. And for gods sake, get some sleep, lol

    • says

      Sorry, but to me, we should not HAVE to break the law. Sure, 57 mph is too low, but I see yahoos thinking 80 mph is okay — it AIN’T. All drivers should be paid by the hour and get overtime. Truth! Then there would be no need ot speed or driver overly long hours.

      I know , some Billy-Bob’s think it’s okay to speed or break the law. These are the same idiots I see riding on four-wheelers rear bumpers and cutting folks off. And don’t you go and defend any of that — these clowns make the rest of us look bad. I dont’ know about sleep apnea, I think it’s largely a racket, but I DO know that electronic logs are good. Used them for the last 5 years. They CAN’T make you break the law. I am sure though, some idiots will keep trying.

      Our industry needs a fundamental overhaul. Paying drivers by the mile needs to go away. Drivers that speed crazily need to go away (no, I am not talking about 5 over, I am talking 20 over). Drivers need to get overtime after 8. Oooooh, so horrible. And WHY, do grocery places get to screw drivers over? It should be law if they hold you there more than an hour, they have to pay, TO THE DRIVER, $35-$50. an hour on top of his wage. Why do drivers have to pay lumpers? Shippers should be responsible for their dock sand their own loading and unloading.

  5. Razzmatazz says

    I use my CPAP machine and it works, however it seems no matter what I do the doctors at Concentra Clinics where many companies in Nashville send their drivers, are making it more difficult every year. Originally, I just needed a note from my primary care doctor and the read out for the last six months from my machine. Now they want not only a note from my doctor but a letter from a sleep specialist and a years worth of readings even though I’ve always had a 98% or better usage. And I lost 30 lbs. Do you know what it cost to see a sleep specialist every freaking year! I’ve given them no reason to be so demanding. They tell me the DOT is cracking down on them. I don’t buy it. I’m under constant stress that they’ll decide I’m not fit to drive even though I’ve been a truck driver for almost 20 years and have almost 2 million safe miles. I have no problem wearing the machine. It’s the damned safety nazis and medical gold diggers that are going to kill my career.

    • Bad Oscar says

      If your using Concentra you will be forced into the program, BECUASE they are partners with a sleep lab, Can you say $$$$$, And remember the little 5 question test they give you to pigeonhole you, no matter how common sense a nap in the after noon is DO NOT ANSWER YES you would take a nap…because that will have you in a sleep study and on a CPAP….SCAMs like this are perpetrated by the Congress, or Lobbys who spend LOTS OF CASH talking a congressman who has no Idea what are job is or what sleep apnea is into makeing another ONEROUS and COSTLY law… dont have Insurance, 3000-5000 dollars is the norm for a sleep lab study, I wish I could make that much money off watching guys sleep and claiming they are all holding there breath. RESMED, GE PHILLIPS AND CONCENTRA are GOUGING us and making an estimated 5 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR….now thats a living, no matter its a racket….a bought and paid for racket of huge profits for an industry thats members sit on the board of the FMCSA and influence the decision….BS

        • joe N says

          I have some proof that concentra is in cahoots with this sleep lab.I got a 3o day medical card the last time I was in concentra (january 2105, and the dr says I need this sleep study.Well, I was going to check around at my local city to see who does this.A couple nghts later I get a call from this sleep apnea center , says concentra sent them the information that I needed this test.The lady then ask when I wanted to set up my test.I put her off a week to check into it.I have a friend who has fell in the trap and has cost him a couple thousand so far to comply and keep a medical card.. this is all a buunch of BS…. I was told one of the senators has stock in this industry and is pushing these test to pad his dividend check from the stock.. I wouldnt doubt that at ALL

        • joe N says

          so does smoking, drinking,eating high salt content,drugs,and everything we eat out of a sack at fast food restaurants.. lets test automobile operators, airline pilots,police officers, and dot officers.Alot o them are so fat they cant get on the ground, much less slide under a truck.

  6. Tim says

    Back off the drivers and start coming down on the carriers and the just in time appointments being made. Your given a load and an appointment window to hit 1000 miles away without concern for road conditions or any other mishaps along the way.

    They put people through a three week school, give them a cdl-a license and 18 wheels and say go make your money. Ya think there may be an accident or two ahead in their near future, duh!!!

  7. robert says

    “it should do so through the normal, established regulatory process rather than through informal guidance,”


    Why the hell is it a problem…

    … for govt entities to follow established procedures…

    … in forcing everyone else to follow their rules thru coercion of losing a career and freedom.

    govt is so important in protecting the rights and welfare of the people and when they abuse the process they give credence to those IDIOTS who want govt so small you can drown it in the bathtub.

  8. Connie Grogan says

    The question should be: is sleep apnea the problem or are other medical issues a person may have the cause of the sleep apnea and many other problems? A under-active thyroid can cause problems with weight, blood pressure, insomnia, and thickening of the sinus membranes. The end result?… Sleep Apnea. Treating the underlying causes can improve health in numerous ways.
    Get over the new rules and go back to running a recap the way we did in the old days and the 34 hr rule is no problem. Surely it is ok to relieve yourself every 8 hours. Otherwise you’ll have urinary tract problems! lol
    And yes, Thank God for our Truck Drivers. Be safe out there!

  9. Rob HEnderson says

    I was just taken out of work and they temporarily disqualified me during my recertification because I’ve just been diagnosed with Sleep apnea. I have to do a min 30 days upto 90 days on the machine to show compliance. Thank GOD I’m in the process of Weightloss Surgery what’s next.

    • Bad Oscar says

      Your problem doesnt end there, theyll want you on this machine FOR LIFE, they dont let go and if your a commercial driver and your diagnosed with sleep apnea they will FORCE YOU to use that machine as long as you drive,,,,thank the bought and paid for congress and FMCSA board who has members of RESMED, PHILLIPS AND GE sitting on it….

    • Larry says

      If you can lose enough weight you would not be required to use the machine anymore. Only after doing another sleep test that shows you are not having any apneas, otherwise you would still be required to use it. I was told i would always need to use one but then i was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea where many have mild.

  10. clydetheride says

    Has anyone considered a work shut-down the next time the other people making minimum wage stop their work?
    With commo the way it is today, you don’t need to have a union to organize a work stoppage.

  11. ironage says

    It astounds me what OTR drivers put up with these days….for relatively low pay and a horrible lifestyle. I just don’t get it. To each his own, i guess. Not me.

    • joe N says

      if you can go into any other industry, DONT GO IN THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY.ITs alot of hours away from home, and LOW PAY.As the song says, mama needs something to hold other than a telephone……. with all the b.s. and regulations, If I had my time to go over again, I would have found some other industry to go into.Your on the road, cant find decent places to stop and sleep, if you do the cops are waking you to MOVE ON. You cant get into any decent restaurants to eat, you are considered scum on the road,your dispatchers treat you like third rate citizens,its just NOT something you want to devote your career to.I urge young people to find some other type job to devote to because sue to all the new requirements,,mandatory issues and other b.s. that has came into effect over the last 20 years, IT IS NOT WORTH THE TIME , and you have NO LIFE,other than the other people in the industry.The money is no longer worth it,and each time you roll thru a weigh station, you feel like your going in a trap, hoping the spring on the trap doesnt shut the door before you get out the other side.. FIND SOME OTHER WAY TO MAKE A LIVING.. THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO GO.

  12. Jim says

    I think Im accurate in saying that 80% of drivers with sleep apnea are overweight….Lose the flab & the sleep apnea should go away too…They are treating the result of a problem & not the root of the problem..

    • Doug says

      You can have sleep apnea and be skinny. If you have sleep apnea being over weight just makes it worse. That is how the Doc explained it to me.

    • Stingray63 says

      Define overweight?? One of my drivers was classified as overweight and he tips the scale at 185 pounds. I know for a fact that he has NO PROBLEM keeping awake during his shift. Obesity has NO BEARING on sleep apnea.

      • joe N says

        concentra told me …. if your neck size is OVER 17 inches, or your body mass is OVER 35, then you are going to get a 3 month card to take a sleep apnea test, so basically unless your fit and exercize daily, your going to fail the DOT test so you can spend hard earned dollars so you can make more dollars to give the sleep test.

    • Larry says

      Weight is the main cause but men and those that smoke are more likely to have sleep apnea. My sleep dr said many kids are diagnosed with it now and those are generally overweight.

  13. Maria Carson PA-C says

    I know it has to be frustrating for you drivers at the time of your medical exam. I don’t know if you all are aware of this or not, but, effective May 21st, 2014, all medical examiners must be certified by the FMSCA to perform the fitness for duty exam. Hopefully, this will provide consistency across the board for all examiners. I hope this information is helpful. To chime in regarding sleep apnea, the FMSCA has set forth stringent guidelines for examiners. As a certified examiner, I require 6months of data from your cpap machine. This data must show more than 4 hours use at least 80% or more and an AHI less than 4 . Driver must not have any current symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness. A letter from sleep specialist is not required.

    • Doug says

      “This data must show more than 4 hours use at least 80% or more and an AHI less than 4 .”

      My question to you is if someone complies with this then what? They don’t need the machine anymore or what? What does the data from the CPAP machine tell you as a examiner or doctor? I thought the machine is only recording if you are using it or not and then that info is told to the trucking company if you are not using it so they can shut you down.

      • Larry says

        Doug my take on it is this. If the reading are satisfactory with the dr he will certify ya for another year. If not you would need to get the machine pressure adjusted. Then he may require ya to sleep with it for awhile to see if you are in range. Some machine now automatically adjust the pressure when it detects apneas are occurring and for those that don’t they still show if it is out of range of your pressure setting. Maintaining your weight is important because i have lost or gained 10 to 15lbs before and then the pressure would have to be adjusted. Typically if you lose weight the pressure needs to be lowered and the opposite if you gain weight. When you gain weight there is a increase of fat in the airway that requires a higher pressure to keep the airway opened while sleeping.

    • Larry says

      So a MSLT test isn’t required currently?? Been driving 9 yrs with a company and that is what the company dr claims DOT requires. Had to do a yearly MSLT showing that i wasn’t falling a sleep during the day. Someone mentioned about shopping around and yes i currently use a sleep specialist that charges $1200 for the test where some want up too $6000. I switched to another company now and that dr that did the exam only asked if i used my machine and passed me. So yes i can see why some drs should not be qualified to do the exams for they could be putting unsafe drivers on the roads with health issues. I see a lot of complaining about this issue here and personally i believe its a responsibility thing and anyone that suspects they have sleep apnea should do the right thing by getting tested. Before i started driving a truck about 11 yrs ago i was driving to work one day and dozed off after being on the interstate for only like 15 mins, i drifted onto the right shoulder and darn near rear ended a PU. I had got 7 to 8 hrs of sleep before i left the house. That was my wake up call so went to the dr which he sent me home with a oxygen meter to sleep on overnight to check if my oxygen was dropping which it was. He had me tested and i was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea which is more extreme than what most drivers on the roads would likely have, i was put on bipap. For those currently on it if you lose or gain about 10 to 15lbs the pressure is likely to need adjusted for the machine to do ya the most good.

  14. julie says

    I’m hearing about the truckers strike about to take place 10/11/2013.. I think that’s good but I feel if OOIDA would lock arms with Major companies then we would have a mass amount of trucks on strike for the government to really take notice,I would love to participate but I also need my job ..So plz start with the big companies so we all can benifit with long over due changes in the industry …

    • clydetheride says

      Yes, Julie,
      It would be nice if a representative group could sit down with the other side with the idea of making necessary changes, BUT will the other side listen or operate in good faith?
      Look at police and fire departments – they have their “blue flue”; don’t truckers have problems, too, like dirty fuel filters or overheating motors, etc., which cause the driver to pull off to the side for an hour in order to operate safely?
      What do you think owner/management of a line will do when 90% of drivers/loads experience a reason to stop for a short while – fire them all?

  15. Yanick says

    Never mind the legislation….if you have sleep apnea it will eventually either kill you or make you sick one way or the other. You do not need a CPAP to treat it. There are two other legitimate treatments. Go to Amazon or Kindle and get a copy of The Truck & Bus Driver Sleep Apnea Handbook.

  16. Doug says

    I have a CPAP machine and have been using it for a few months now. I use it every night since I’ve had it. What a waste of money. I feel no different now than when I didn’t have to use it. If anything I sleep less now because I don’t want to use the thing. The sleep Apnea Doc told me if I loose 30 pounds I probably will not need to use the machine. Yes I’m trying to loose the weight but the company doctor who forced me into this machine, who I never selected or met I’m sure will not be around after I loose the weight. And I bet my company will make it extremely hard to get off the machine also. It has been a real nightmare. Lost a week of work doing sleep studies and forced to buy a $900 CPAC machine or if I didn’t agree to buying the machine I would be forced to quit my job. But they would give me a bus ticket to get home. Really nice of them right?All the stuff in my truck… I would have to find a way to get it home or after 30 days they would throw it away. So before the sleep study I was fine driving all over the country and then right after the sleep study my company would not let me drive home and get a second opinion from my doctor. The company contract for the CPAC machine read… We can charge you up to $1200 for the machine even thou the cost of it is $900. Who in their right mind would sign a contract like that unless your under pressure to loose your job if you didn’t sign it? How do companies get away with this in the year 2013? Good Grief!!!

  17. John says

    Drivers do yourself a favor and make sure you shop around and get a sleep study done at a reasonable rate before getting it done. Be proactive and ask questions about the cost. CPAP has improved the quality of my life 10 fold, but I am positive I could have saved money in the process, do your homework, it is a huge benefit to your life if u suffer from it as I have for years. Don’t believe the bs about you can’t drive commercially with it because u can as long as your treated for it.

  18. James C says

    It is turning into a “medical” witch hunt out there, the FMCSA apparently trying weed out drivers so that the industry is left only with “Starfleet” officers.

    Reality check, FMCSA. We’re Americans out here, bringing everyone their freight. Well, guess what, a large percentage of AMERICANS are obese. Do you think that because we’re truck drivers that we’re from some kind of special classification of people?

    We’re not. We are average working men and women just doing a job in order to get by. Even more, many of us are out here working our backsides off to make sure freight for the rest of our country gets delivered in timely fashion.

    We know the motoring public hates trucks. But they are a necessary “evil”. Without trucks, America will grind to a very unpleasant halt. So make up your minds. You want your Walmarts? Well, you have to deal with the trucks. There is a price for everything – trucks are the price for the bountiful conveniences Americans enjoy.

    So how about a little education for the motoring public, instead of ever increasing and increasingly draconian policy-making against the men and women who are making it all possible?

    Right now, it’s sleep apnea. What will it be tomorrow? You going to want men and women with perfect physiques as the only ones allowed to drive trucks?

    FMCSA, you are going to keep on until you ruin this industry. We’re keeping this country going. So please, just let us be so we can KEEP it going.

    • Larry says

      They are doing it for everyone’s safety. Personally i believe if everyone was responsible there would not be a issue but unfortunately there are some that have sleep apnea and never been tested for it and don’t bother knowing something isn’t right. Majority of the trucks you see that ran off of the roads are those that never got tested. They could have ran across a medium and killed people instead of running off into the woods like most do. I have been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and i know it is a serious safety issue and not just about money or more regulations. Sure most that don’t have it or have experienced it know nothing about the issue.

      • James C says

        My problem with all of this is, you don’t fall under mandatory testing unless your weight is over a certain point. If you’re a fit, skinny guy, you aren’t subject to mandatory testing. If you’re fat, you are.

        I had two uncles, who were both skinny as rails and in great shape – wiry and muscular. One worked on the railroad all his life, the other worked in steel. Both snored like mountain goats (my aunt’s words), however. They were stricken with terrible cases of sleep apnea.

        It isn’t about diagnosing sleep apnea in truck drivers. If it were, EVERY driver would be getting tested. They’re not; only fat people are being required.

        This isn’t about safety. This is about discrimination based upon a driver’s weight.

        Fat guys have been driving trucks for as long as there have been trucks. There is no conclusive data to suggest that fat people crash more often than skinny ones. This mandatory testing based on BMI (Body Mass Index) is all about feeding political drama-sugar to a scientifically under-informed public. It’s political bullshit to help politicians win votes. It is not about promoting safety on our roads.

        It is unfair. It is discrimination. And it is very likely also unconstitutional.

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