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Trucking companies may increase testing for sleep apnea

Carriers in Missouri and other states across the nation may soon require more truck drivers to be tested for sleep apnea after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case related to the issue in April 2017. It was brought by a driver who claimed that one carrier's required testing for the medical condition violated his rights. With less fear of having to defend the decision in court following the rejection of the appeal, more companies may require sleep tests for drivers.

Although work on guidelines for testing, tracking and treating truckers for the medical condition is underway, no federal regulations are in place. Because obesity may be an indicator of sleep apnea, two Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advisory committees have recommended required testing for drivers who have a BMI of 35 or higher.

However, some officials in the industry argue against a mandate for sleep apnea based on BMI and consider proposed regulations to be intrusive. The spokesperson for one trade group denies any link between truck crashes and sleep apnea. She also claims that the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine to monitor treatment for the condition violates a federal privacy rule.

The privacy rule sets national standards for the protection of personal health information and medical records, but one labor law attorney suggests that the courts may be reluctant to protect drivers' rights in connection with obesity. In Missouri, people who are seriously injured in semi truck accidents caused by truck driver fatigue may want to have a lawyer's assistance in seeking compensation for their losses.

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