The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has withdrawn a proposed rule that would require commercial driver’s license (CDL) drivers to be screened for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as part of their biennial CDL medical exam.


OSA is a respiratory disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep that is generally attributed to obesity. Withdrawal of the OSA screening proposal is \ good news for petroleum marketers because it could have disqualified even moderately overweight drivers with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 33 and a neck circumference over 17 inches from operating a commercial motor vehicle.


The Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA) vigorously opposed the FMCSA proposal after it was announced in March 2016. PMAA submitted written comments to the FMCSA arguing that short-haul drivers should be exempt from OSA screening due to lack of sufficient information establishing a causal link between OSA and short-haul truck crashes. PMAA also met with the DOT’s Regulatory Reform Task Force (RRTF) in May urging that the proposed rule be withdrawn altogether.


OSA screening has been under consideration off and on at the FMCSA over the past 15 years without much movement, but gained new momentum after a recent study by the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) directly linked a series of truck and train accidents to OSA. The study found undiagnosed or inadequately treated moderate to severe OSA can cause unintended sleep episodes and deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, memory and the capacity to safely respond to hazards when driving commercial motor vehicles.


The FMCSA said it was withdrawing the proposed rule due to inadequate information.