OOIDA requests more time to make sleep apnea comments

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 5/19/2016

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has requested an extension to submit comments about the obstructive sleep apnea advanced notice of proposed rulemaking so that it can properly review results from a yet-to-be released survey. 

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer submitted a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Scott Darling and the Federal Railroad Administration’s Sarah Feinberg on May 18 that requested a 60-day extension to file comments. The current deadline for comments is June 8.

Spencer said the American Transportation and Research Institute initiated a survey that will provide a comprehensive look at the impact of obstructive sleep apnea screening and treatment within the motor carrier community, which is beyond the information that any one carrier can provide.

The results of the survey are expected to be released this month.

“With this data in hand, OOIDA will be able to present a better analysis of the information requested by the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking,” Spencer wrote.

“Immediately upon release of the study, OOIDA staff will begin our evaluation of the data. We then require the opportunity to compile our findings and share those with our members, as well as time to elicit feedback from our members. OOIDA members consist of individuals who have very full schedules on a daily basis. To complete this process properly and provide useful feedback to the Agencies, we require sufficient time.”

The FMCSA and FRA published the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking about a potential sleep apnea regulation on March 10. Since then, the agencies have solicited comments from members of the trucking and medical industries about the issue. Public listening sessions on the topic took place May 12 in Washington, D.C., and May 17 in Chicago. The final listening session is planned for Wednesday, May 25, in Los Angeles.

Spencer said any rule regarding sleep apnea testing would strongly affect OOIDA’s members.

“OOIDA’s members are primarily small business owners, and they collectively own and operate more than 200,000 individual heavy-duty trucks,” Spencer wrote. “They will be greatly impacted by any rule relating to screening and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, along with the majority to truck owners. With 90 percent of carriers being comprised of six trucks or less, this concern is substantial. As such, we have the responsibility to thoroughly assess all data available on obstructive sleep apnea in order to produce adequate comments for this advanced notice of proposed rulemaking.”

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