December 2013

SLEEP APNEA BILL. In September the U.S. Senate passed a two-page piece of legislation — the so-called sleep apnea bill — that would require that any action taken by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pertaining to sleep disorder screening for trucking companies come via formal rulemaking and not guidance, as the agency had previously hinted it planned to do.

The bill now moves on to President Barack Obama, who can make the bill law with his signature.

Kevin Hall, communications director for bill co-sponsor Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), said the Senate’s vote was unanimous. The House cleared the bill with a unanimous vote, 405-0, Sept. 26.

The bill does not require that FMCSA take any action related to sleep disorder screening. It only prevents FMCSA from using guidance to issue what would essentially be informal rules, which, according to House bill sponsor Rep. Larry Buschon (R-Md.), would make carriers vulnerable to lawsuits.

It also would not allow the rule to be fully analyzed before becoming a regulation, Buschon said in a letter to colleagues last month when rallying support for the bill.

The legislation is supported by the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

After the House introduced the bill, FMCSA issued a statement saying it would pursue rulemaking on sleep apnea screening rather than guidance.

FAST STATS JUST RELEASED FROM THE FMCSA. In 2011, 3,608 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, a 3-percent increase from 2010. However, from 2008 through 2011 the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes declined by 12 percent. The number of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes declined by 13 percent over the same period.

Over the past 3 years (2008 through 2011):

The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes declined by 12 percent, from 4,089 to 3,608, and the vehicle involvement rate for large trucks in fatal crashes (vehicles involved in fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled by large trucks) increased by 2 percent.

The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes decreased by 5 percent, from 66,000 to 63,000, and the vehicle involvement rate for large trucks in injury crashes increased by 10 percent.

The number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes decreased by 28 percent, from 309,000 to 221,000, and the vehicle involvement rate for large trucks in property damage only crashes declined by 17 percent. Click for more information

“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not Guilty'.” - Theodore Roosevelt