Truck drivers and railroad workers in Oklahoma and across the country may soon be required to be screened for obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can produce frequent interruption in breathing while an individual is sleeping. The respiratory condition affects 28 percent of drivers of commercial motor vehicles and can contribute to distraction and diminished functionality when an individual is awake. Such effects can make the resultant impaired driving a safety issue, placing others on the road at risk.
The proposal, which is backed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration, generated a substantial reaction from the public. Commenters questioned whether it was appropriate for the agencies to monitor the diagnosis and treatment of the respiratory condition for transportation workers. Many objected to requiring the commercial vehicle drivers or the carriers to pay for the exams and treatments, which can be extremely costly.