Last week, Politico published the article, “Asleep at the wheel,” which addresses the lack of federal regulations for screening rail employees for sleep disorders.
According to the article, the rail industry – unlike the trucking, bus, merchant marine and airline industries – is the only mode of transportation in which regulators do not require a comprehensive medical examination for operators. Although the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires vision and hearing tests every three years, railroads can still certify engineers who flunk a medical examination if they think the worker can safely operate a train.
Furthermore, the article asserts that one of the hurdles to the FRA’s attempt to update its health regulations is that it tries to achieve consensus among railroads, labor organizations, and physicians rather than imposing a solution. When such interests clash, the medical issue of operator fatigue can get pushed to the back burner indefinitely. The agency has been pursuing a congressionally mandated effort to tighten its fatigue rules, but those efforts are three years late amid disputes among railroads, safety advocates and labor unions.
The AASM has proactively taken steps to inform the American public of the dangers of drowsy driving and operator fatigue, particularly among the nation’s motorists and workers in the commercial transportation industry. Explore the Patient Safety Initiatives page on the Evolve Sleep website to discover how you can promote commonsense transportation policy and safe travels for your patients.