FMCSA Medical Board to Review Comments on Sleep Apnea Pre-Rule

With the extended comment period on the impact a sleep-apnea rule might have on CMV drivers closed for several weeks, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced its Medical Review Board will meet on August 22 and 23 in a public session to make recommendations on comments submitted regarding its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking “on safety-sensitive rail and commercial motor vehicle drivers with moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea.”

That APRN— also known as a “pre rule”—was issued jointly with the Federal Railroad Administration back in March. At that time, the agencies described the pre rule as “the first step” in considering whether to propose specific requirements around OSA.”

The pre-rule (RIN 2126-AB88) is titled “Evaluation of Safety Sensitive Personnel for OSA.” It specifically sought “data and information concerning the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in rail and highway transportation.”

Since March, almost 600 comments were filed in the APRN’s docket and three “listening sessions” were held at several locations across the country to further elicit public comments on moving forward with such a rulemaking.

The current pre-rule activity is in line with legislation passed by Congress in 2013 that instructs FMCSA on the regulatory approach it must take regarding OSA. That law does not require the agency to issue any sleep-apnea policy or regulation. Rather, the bill states that no policy can be issued without the agency first conducting a thorough analysis of the prevalence of OSA among commercial drivers; the range of possible actions to address the problem; and the costs and benefits that may result.

In its August 9 Federal Register notice of the upcoming meeting, FMCSA said that the MRB will also review its previously issued report on OSA from 2012 to determine whether the report should be updated based on any changes to medical standards and practice or on any pre-rule comments placed in the docket or received at the listening sessions.

The MRB is composed of five medical experts who each serve 2-year terms. The board is charged with establishing, reviewing and revising “medical standards for operators of commercial motor vehicles that will ensure that the physical condition of operators of commercial motor vehicles is adequate to enable them to operate the vehicles safely.”

The MRB will meet on Monday and Tuesday, August 22-23, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT, at the FMCSA National Training Center, 1310 N. Courthouse Road, Arlington, Vir., 6th floor. Copies of the task statement and a meeting agenda will be made available online in advance.

Oral comments from the public will be heard during the meeting, subject to the discretion of the chairman, FMCSA noted. Members of the public may also submit written comments on the topics to be considered during the meeting. Those are due by Wednesday, August 17, and should be directed to the Federal Docket Management System Docket Number FMCSA-2008-0362 and FMCSA-2015-0419 for the MRB using any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to and follow the instructions for submitting comments
  • Fax. 202-493-2251
  • Mail. Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590
  • Hand Delivery. U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays
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