Nearly all truck drivers may be tested for sleep apnea

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Serah D.'s Comment
member avatar

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

Posted on August 26, 2016 / Carla Grace

Earlier this week, 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. 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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Hypertension:

Abnormally high blood pressure.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Body Mass Index:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OOIDA:

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

Who They Are

OOIDA is an international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional drivers on all issues that affect truckers. The over 150,000 members of OOIDA are men and women in all 50 states and Canada who collectively own and/or operate more than 240,000 individual heavy-duty trucks and small truck fleets.

Their Mission

The mission of OOIDA is to serve owner-operators, small fleets and professional truckers; to work for a business climate where truckers are treated equally and fairly; to promote highway safety and responsibility among all highway users; and to promote a better business climate and efficiency for all truck operators.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

The government needs to stay out of medicine. They screw up everything.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

The government needs to stay out of medicine. They screw up everything.

Big Scott in primcipal I do agree. However in this case the government made the request, medical professionals crafted the guidelines.

With that said what is bothersome for me having never exhibited any symptoms of SA, is my age (57) my neck size and BMI. Years of athletic training left me an above average size neck and muscle mass. Body fat percentage, waste size, and resting heart rate are also indicators being ignored.

If I have SA and didn't know it, I'd want to be treated for it. But like Big Scott suggests, there may be more to this. We should all start investing in companies manufacturing CPAP devices. Looks like we'll help drive up their sales.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Anchorman's Comment
member avatar
If I have SA and didn't know it, I'd want to be treated for it.

I agree. Although the guidelines may be questionable to some, it's does not matter either way. If you have sleep apnea then you need to be treated for it. If you don't have sleep apnea then you have nothing to worry about. It's a winning situation either way.

There are ways to decrease your chances of having sleep apnea by getting other factors under control.

We have more information on SA in our Sleep Apnea, Truck Drivers, & BMI Calculator wiki page.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

Lol G-Town. Thanks. I have been losing weight and my BMI is going down. From my understanding, the current way of doing things is based on BMI and/or neck size. I don't mind the testing. It seems the companies will still hire you but require you to have and use a CPAP. I am very against the government getting to deep into people's personal life. On a side note, I'm sitting on my couch with my pug snoring away next to me.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Anchorman.

Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

Unfortunately, there are many overweight/obese drivers out here. I am assuming there are enough incidents of Drivers falling asleep at the wheel. It may be Sleep Apnea related or not. We all know how deeply Insurance Companies are embedded into this Profession. It may be time for all of us to look at losing some weight and trying to get a bit healthier overall. Myself included. My big goal over the next several months is to work on becoming Tobacco Free. I know it is bad for me but continue to smoke/chew. Swift offers a pretty sizeable additional contribution to the Health insurance premiums for tobacco free drivers. I would really like to take advantage of that incentive. Maybe Companies coud be proactive in combating obesity among their Drivers as well. Anything would be better than Uncle Sugar Daddy Sammy getting his tentacles any deeper into this industry than he already has. Just my $.02

smile.gif

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

Unfortunately, there are many overweight/obese drivers out here. I am assuming there are enough incidents of Drivers falling asleep at the wheel. It may be Sleep Apnea related or not. We all know how deeply Insurance Companies are embedded into this Profession. It may be time for all of us to look at losing some weight and trying to get a bit healthier overall. Myself included. My big goal over the next several months is to work on becoming Tobacco Free. I know it is bad for me but continue to smoke/chew. Swift offers a pretty sizeable additional contribution to the Health insurance premiums for tobacco free drivers. I would really like to take advantage of that incentive. Maybe Companies coud be proactive in combating obesity among their Drivers as well. Anything would be better than Uncle Sugar Daddy Sammy getting his tentacles any deeper into this industry than he already has. Just my $.02

smile.gif

Absolutely. I am alcohol, tobacco and drug free. My wife and I have been changing our diet to be healthier and lose weight. She is diabetic and is tired of all the meds she is on. We did a sugar cleans to break our sugar addiction. We eat well and have been feeling better all around. I have lost about 20 pounds so far. I think everyone should try to eat better. Unfortunately, inexpensive food is usually the worst for you.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

FMCSA has been trying to push an OSA ruling onto the books for well over a decade - and has failed to get it on there every time.

The issue is, that there's "sideways pressure" being exerted onto the insurance side.

Just use of a sliding scale BMI is sketchy. You can be a BMI of 40 - if you're UNDER 42 years old? BMI of 40 is MORBIDLY OBESE. I'm 5'5" - a BMI of 40 puts me at 240 lbs. That's HUGE.

It's not a RULE - until it goes through the process, gets published, goes through RFC (request for comment) and the FINAL RULE is published.

Rick

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Bravo Zulu's Comment
member avatar

It should be noted that every time there is an additional cost added to a company, it is more easily absorbed by the larger companies.

Ever notice how large companies are less concerned about these types of additional costs? It makes their smaller competition weaker. That's just business as a whole, and has little to do with which industry it is.

Of course, the small companies dont get a seat on the "advisory boards", lol.

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