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Federal agencies cancel potential rule on apnea screening

Minnesota residents may have more concerns after the Trump administration ended a year-long federal rulemaking process aiming at a standardized approach to sleep apnea for truck drivers and railroad workers. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that prevents sufferers from achieving restful sleep. It can lead to drowsy driving or even sleeping behind the wheel in some cases.

Because of the danger posed by drowsy truck drivers or train engineers responsible for massive vehicles with the potential to cause severe injuries for many people, the Department of Transportation has been considering making a uniform federal screening rule for the disorder. However, in August 2017, the agency announced that it will no longer seek a standard regulation and believes that current programs are appropriate.

Many people who suffer from sleep apnea do not know that they have the disorder and thus are not receiving treatment. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has urged a national screening rule since 2009, noting that sleep apnea has been a factor in at least 10 accidents investigated by the board. The NTSB expressed disappointment that the agencies have withdrawn the development of new rules. The withdrawal comes in the framework of the policy of the Trump administration to halt further regulations or roll back existing ones.

Sleep apnea can be a major threat. A sleepy train engineer could be responsible for serious injuries and even deaths of many others if they doze off while operating such a large vehicle. People who have suffered injuries as a result of a fatigued railroad worker may want to meet with a personal injury attorney to see what legal remedies might be available.

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