President Obama signed bill H.R. 3095, also known as the “Sleep Apnea Bill” into law Tuesday, October 15, forbidding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from using guidance alone to address sleep apnea screening for truck drivers.
The law does not require FMCSA to make a sleep apnea screening rule. Rather, it requires that if the agency takes action, it do so via the formal rule-making process rather than guidance, as the agency had hinted it would do.
In our previous posts about sleep apnea, we explained that this means this bill would require the FMCSA to require screening, testing, or treatment of individuals operating commercial motor vehicles for sleep disorders.
The House unanimously voted the bill through on September 26 and it passed the Senate on October 7.
In a letter to House colleagues after introducing the legislation, Rep. Larry Buschon (R-Md.) said the FMCSA plan to use guidance alone would prevent the industry and the public from having the ability to properly evaluate the rule and take part in the process.
“In the interest of due process,” the letter said, any action FMCSA takes should come in the form of a rule. Guidance also, the letter said, would make carriers vulnerable to lawsuits.