Truck drivers’ use of positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines will likely be an important part of a sleep apnea testing rule in the U.S., according to government officials involved in the process. However, there are still engineering obstacles associated with the assisted-breathing machines in tractor sleeper berths.
That was the theme of a discussion panel at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting last month, according to a Transport Topics report.
Jack Van Steenburg, chief safety officer of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said the agency is pursuing a two-step rule related to sleep apnea: The first, coming soon, addresses the registration of medical personnel who examine truck drivers. The other would provide guidelines on how to deal with sleep apnea,including a possible mandate that drivers diagnosed with the condition use CPAP machines.
(CPAP machines keep nasal passages open with a constant stream of air, allowing lengthy, uninterrupted sleep).
However, the devices were designed for home usage and there are reportedly some incompatibilities with use in sleep berths.
Potholes could disrupt the water in the device’s humidifier, for example. There also may be storage issues and possible power source incompatibilities between certain devices and the truck’s power system.
There is enough complexity and uncertainty on the issue that TMC created a task force to examine the problems and prepare recommended practices, says Transport Topics.
Van Steenburg said the medical examiner rule has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget and should be published this year.
In advance of a U.S. rule, the Canadian Trucking Alliance is preparing a sleep apnea testing pilot program this spring.
If carriers are interested in participating, contact CTA senior VP, Stephen Laskowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.