Full text of Sen. Booker’s sleep apnea bill released

October 5, 2017

Mark Schremmer


The full text to a bill introduced by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., that would force the U.S. Department of Transportation to push through a final rule to require testing of sleep apnea for truck drivers and railroad workers has been released.

As expected, S1833 includes the same language as the House version, HR3882.

Both bills would “require the Secretary of Transportation to publish a final rule to provide for the screening, testing, and treatment for sleep disorders of individuals operating commercial vehicles.”

Specifically, each bill requires no later than a year after enactment for the administrators of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration to “complete the rulemaking process and publish a final rule” regarding a March 2016 advance notice of proposed rulemaking on sleep apnea.

The FMCSA and FRA never issued a proposed rulemaking that included a sleep apnea screening mandate. However, the two agencies combined efforts in March 2016 to gather information to see if a proposed rule regarding sleep apnea was necessary.

After hundreds of comments were received and three public listening sessions, the FMCSA released a report in July that said the agency “has determined there is not enough information available to support moving forward with a rulemaking action, and so the rulemaking will be withdrawn.” The withdrawal was made official in August.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, there have been two fatality crashes involving heavy-duty trucks in the past 17 years that list sleep apnea as the probable cause. The crashes were in 2000 and 2009.

Booker’s bill was co-sponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. The House bill was introduced by Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.; Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J.; and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J.

Since FMCSA and FRA never issued a proposed rule mandating sleep apnea testing, it is unclear what exactly the final rule would require.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has spoken out against the bills.

“The withdrawal came after more than a yearlong review of the March 2016 advance notice of proposed rulemaking,” said Jay Grimes, OOIDA manager of federal affairs. “We certainly have not seen any new evidence since the withdrawal or really any conclusive data at all, showing a link between obstructive sleep apnea and higher crash risk for commercial motor vehicle drivers.”