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Dr. Bucshon authors bill to save trucking industry $1 billion

Representative Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-8) along with Representative Dan Lipinski (IL-3) introduced legislation to save America’s trucking industry over $1 billion annually by ensuring due process on an important Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulatory matter.

The bill, H.R. 3095, will require FMCSA to go through a formal notice and comment rulemaking proceeding when issuing guidance on the screening and testing for obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders for drivers of commercial motor vehicles.

“If FMSCA wants to weigh in on this issue then they should go through the proper rulemaking process,” said Bucshon. “With such tremendous potential costs to the truck and bus industry, it is critical that we include all the stakeholders, including the medical and trucking communities, in any thorough analysis of fatigue-related crashes. This bill will provide an open and transparent process to evaluate both the costs and benefits of any proposed regulations.”

Without due process, the FMCSA guidance would sidestep a thorough analysis of obstructive sleep apnea among truck and bus drivers, the range of possible actions to address the problem, and full consideration of the views of all affected stakeholders, including the drivers themselves. Further, non-binding guidance would make the industry extremely vulnerable to litigation – whether they enforce the guidance or ignore it.

The trucking industry estimates the impact of screening, diagnosis, and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea could exceed $1 billion annually. With a $100 million impact specific to the private school bus industry.

“This is not an insignificant step,” said American Trucking Association President and CEO Bill Graves. “There are more than 3 million professional truck drivers and the cost of screening, diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea could easily exceed $1 billion annually. Taking a step as potentially costly as that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly and outside of the normal processes.”

The American Trucking Association, American Bus Association, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, National School Transportation Association, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and United Motorcoach Association have all endorsed this bipartisan bill.

“Small-business truckers applaud Representatives Bucshon and Lipinski for their efforts on this important issue to truckers and to small businesses,” said Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.  “H.R.3095 is common sense legislation that has the support of the entire industry.  That fact alone should send a strong signal that anything FMCSA does regarding sleep apnea should absolutely consider the costs such a policy will pass on to truckers, especially more experienced and safer drivers.”

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will consider H.R. 3095 in a markup hearing on Thursday, September 19, 2013.