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Commercial Drivers With High BMIs Could Find Their CDLs Suspended

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) is planning to implement requirements that will require commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders with a body mass index of at least 35 to be tested for sleep apnea. This number is based on a recent recommendation from the Medical Review Board. Drivers with a BMI of 35 or greater will be required to undergo an initial sleep apnea screening.

Sleep apnea is a condition where an upper airway narrows or closes during sleep, causing sleeping patterns to be disturbed. Those with sleep apnea tend to be extra sleepy during daytime hours, which can be dangerous for truck drivers who spend most of the daytime driving. Concerns of increased crash risks and unsafe roadways are what promoted the FMCSA to start screening for the condition.

In the past, when asked on tests, many truck drivers report they are often sleepy. However, this is not an effective method for determining sleep apnea because there is no reported connection between feeling sleepy and actually having sleep apnea.

However, there is a link between sleep apnea and age and obesity levels. A study involving commercial truck drivers and sleep apnea showed that these two factors help determine the chance a person will suffer from sleep apnea. The higher a person’s age and obesity level, the more likely they are to suffer from sleep apnea.

Duration of sleep is also a factor. Sleeping less than six hours per night increases the risk of sleep apnea. This factor further affects many truck drivers because a large number of them are awake before 6 a.m. and do not sleep very long.

While no laws regarding drivers with sleep apnea have been created, it is likely that new regulations will be put into place once the FMSCA implements testing. It could be determined that commercial drivers with sleep apnea will no longer be considered medically fit to handle commercial vehicles, and find their CDLs suspended or even revoked.

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