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Six weeks after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration pulled their advance notice of proposed rulemaking on obstructive sleep apnea, Democrats in both the House and Senate are pushing back.
The legislation they're sponsoring would force the Department of Transportation to mandate sleep-apnea testing and treatment for both truck drivers and railroad engineers.
The lawmakers' move also came just a week after the National Transportation Safety Board said that engineers involved in two deadly commuter-train crashes near New York City were diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the bill in the Senate, where it is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). A companion bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Albio Sires (D-NJ).
“Whether on the roads or the rails, the safety of the traveling public must be our highest transportation priority,” said Sen. Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate's mass transit subcommittee. “I'm disappointed that the administration chose to put the traveling public at risk by ignoring the threat sleep apnea poses. This legislation would address that failure and implement this commonsense public safety policy to protect riders, save lives, and make our rails and roadways safer.”
Sen. Booker, Ranking Member of the Senate subcommittee on rail infrastructure called the administration's pulling of the sleep apnea pre-rule “shortsighted and reckless.”
According to Senate Minority Leader Schumer, a federal law “would force all rail lines— in New York, New Jersey and across the country— to conduct these [apnea] tests in perpetuity and with clear federal guidelines. Across-the-board sleep apnea testing must be law of the land for train operators and commercial drivers to help ensure us that the tragedies that happened in Brooklyn and in Hoboken will be prevented ...Read the rest of this story