Earlier this month, Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., introduced new legislation that would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to make sleep apnea testing and treatment mandatory for all rail operators and commercial truck drivers.
Legislation requiring sleep apnea testing was proposed by the Obama administration in March 2016, but the current administration has announced its withdraw. According to Booker and other members of Congress who are co-sponsors of the legislation, reversing this rule compromises the safety of truck drivers and rail operators, as well as the safety of the public, who is put at greater risk of being injured in a truck accident or a train derailment.
Legislation Backers and Opponents
Co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and Representatives Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J. and Albio Sires, D-N.J. introduced the bill to the House. The legislation was introduced after the 2016 Hoboken, New Jersey train crash, which resulted in one fatality and over one hundred injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed that the engineer who had been operating the train had sleep apnea. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with the condition after the fatal accident. If he had been tested during an exam he had two months earlier, the wreck could have been avoided.
Following the Trump administration’s decision to reverse the rule requiring sleep apnea testing and treatment, Booker commented that the recent NTSB findings shine a light on how important this testing is and how shortsighted and reckless it is to reverse it. Booker said that if action is not taken, it is simply a matter of time before another tragic accident occurs. Sleep apnea testing is a simple, common-sense strategy that can prevent accidents and save lives.
Drowsy Driving Tops NTSB List of Desired Safety Improvements
Despite the Trump administration’s steps to withdraw the rule, Booker and the other senators involved in the legislation remain committed to getting it passed. While the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has already committed to sleep apnea testing, federal law would force all rail lines and truck companies to do so as well. According to Pascrell, reducing drowsy driving accidents is a priority for the NTSB as fatigue is a serious problem among truck drivers and rail operators. He sees the president’s decision as shortsighted and one that compromises the safety of our citizens.
Booker, Schumer, Menendez, and Gillibrand reached out to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in an effort to obtain information about the DOT’s decision to withdraw the rule. They also requested additional information about how the DOT plans to identify and treat those truck drivers and rail operators who have obstructive sleep apnea.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Compensation for Victims of Drowsy Driving
If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a truck accident involving a drowsy driver, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Baltimore truck accident lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent truck accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.