In January, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled against a prior lawsuit filed last April by the OOIDA (the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association).
The initial suit alleged that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) bypassed rulemaking protocols to forcibly regulate sleep apnea screening among commercial truck drivers.
However, after their lawsuit was rejected, they petitioned for a rehearing on February 20.
At the heart of the request for the rehearing: OOIDA’s claim that the FMCSA didn’t follow procedural protocols to add rules to 2015 regulations.
The OOIDA specifically objected to the presence of “Appendix A,” a detailed list of medical criteria (including screening for obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA) that medical examiners would be required to implement and sign off on when determining the medical safety of drivers.
The OOIDA felt these additions to the regulations were not fairly incorporated and violated their specific procedural rights.
However, their petition for a rehearing was rejected by the Eighth Circuit panel, which determined their case “lacked standing.”
On March 15, the FMCSA released their response to the OOIDA petition for a rehearing, stating that “further review would not affect the ultimate outcome of this case,” and the Eighth Circuit panel agreed.
Many commercial fleets routinely make it a practice to have their drivers tested for medical safety (ruling out sleep disorders or proving successful treatment adherence for those who have been diagnosed).
Some independent truck drivers, however, feel they are left with the burden of expensive medical exams and therapies that force them to lose time at work and which could ultimately cost them their jobs.
Meanwhile, safety concerns regarding drowsy driving among truck drivers, often caused by undiagnosed and untreated or untreated sleep disorders, continue to mount.
According to the National Traffic Safety Board, driver fatigue is the most common reason for truck accidents and causes as many as one third of all fatal-to-driver truck crashes.