Nearly All Truck Drivers Will Require Sleep Apnea Testing According To New Guidelines

sleep-apnea-testing-for-truckers

In late August 2016, the FMCSA’s Medical Review Board published a list of guidelines for required sleep apnea testing and treatment. The medical recommendations will be used as a basis to develop future law proposals.

According to their guidelines, a trucker must be tested for Obstructive Sleep Apena (OSA) if:

Body mass index is greater than or equal to 40

OR

Body mass index is greater than or equal to 33 and meets at least three of the following criteria:

  • Age 42 or older
  • Male or postmenopausal female
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Neck size greater than 17 inches (males) or 15.5 inches (females)
  • History of heart disease or stroke
  • Loud snoring
  • Has had witnessed apneas
  • Small airway to the lungs
  • Untreated hypothyroidism or hypertension
  • Has micrognathia or retrognathia

Drivers immediately took issue with the recommendations, claiming that an overwhelming majority of drivers would fall under the criteria for required treatment.

Drivers immediately took issue with the recommendations, claiming that an overwhelming majority of drivers would fall under the criteria for required treatment.

 For example, a 42-year-old male would only need one other symptom to mandate the testing.

Under the guidelines, FMCSA would allow truck drivers with an OSA diagnosis to continue driving if they are treated and healed to an acceptable degree.

The board also concluded that retesting would be required for drivers who tested mildly or even negatively for OSA, or if another risk factor comes into play. Retesting would also be mandated if a driver’s weight increases by ten percent.

Truckers who meet the diagnosis for any form of sleep apnea would be subjected to at least an annual medical certification, as well as mandatory treatment.  Such treatments mentioned were the use of a CPAP machine or specific surgeries.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) heavily opposes the recommendations, arguing that the guidelines are illogical. Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s manager of federal affairs, explained that most drivers meet the criteria for age, sex and neck size.

The OOIDA brought up the concern of cost and practicality for truck drivers. The costs of testing and treatment for OSA can be extremely pricey, even when insurance is used.

The recommendations are still simply that; they are not yet binding law. The FMCSA will have another board meeting to finalize the guidelines. The date for that meeting has not yet been established.

Comments are closed.