White House: Truck, Train Operators Sleep Apnea Screenings Not Req’d

BALTIMORE (WJZ)  — The Trump administration announces it will not require truck drivers and train operators to get tested for sleep apnea, a disorder that can cause day time drowsiness.

Ava-joye Burnett says critics believe this decision will put lives at risk.

The Trump administration says monitoring this disorder, which could cause truck drivers and train operators to fall asleep on the job, should be up to the companies, and not the government.

A commuter train slammed into a station in Hoboken, New Jersey in September — one person died. The engineer’s lawyer said he suffered from sleep apnea.

In 2013, a commuter train derailed in New York; four people died. That operator also had sleep apnea.

The disorder has been linked to nine truck and train crashes since 2000, and with such a dangerous track record, there were calls to test drivers and operators, but the Trump administration overturned that plan.

“It is a little concerning because they are on the road longer than I am,” says Brian Main, from Baltimore.

Even truckers question the decision.

“A lot of deaths occur from it, of people falling asleep. They should do a pre-screening, for any company, they should have a pre-screening,” says Sam Smith.

The NTSB expressed disappointment in the decision and said sleep apnea is being examined in ongoing investigations.

Doctor William Han with Sinai Hospital says people with sleep apnea stop breathing dozens of times every night, and by the time they hit the road, they’re still tired.

“So imagine if you’ve only got two hours of sleep every night your whole life, the next day, you’d feel normal, but you’d just be really tired, you’d want to take naps during the day, small things would put you to sleep,” says Dr. Han.

While some truck drivers are on the fence:

“I think it is a good thing because some drivers they really don’t need it, but then you got some that need it,” says truck driver Abari Miller.

One former Obama administration official has slammed the move.

“You cannot argue that this is not putting the public safety at risk,” says Sarah Feinberg, Head of Federal Railroad Administration under President Obama.

Some major companies like Amtrak already require sleep apnea screening for operators.

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