A sleep apnea-related train derailment in 2013 that left four dead and 59 injured has spurred new regulations for New York’s commuter train workers. Earlier this week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Charles E. Schumer announced the expansion of a sleep apnea testing program for Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employees, reports CBS New York.
The engineer involved in the 2013 crash was found to have undiagnosed, severe obstructive sleep apnea, and the probable cause of the accident was determined to be the result of his having fallen asleep while operating the train.
As part of a pilot program, Metro-North engineers have been undergoing screenings for sleep apnea since January 2015. According to a statement from the Governor’s Press Office, MTA now will make the program permanent at Metro-North and will expand it to include Metro-North conductors and Long Island Rail Road train crew members, while also making it available to other MTA agencies.
The April 19 statement also noted that the MTA has issued a Request for Proposals to seek a medical firm or firms to conduct the sleep apnea testing for MTA personnel. Proposals are due within 30 days.
The New York-based accident is further evidence that the dangers of drowsy driving extend beyond American roads to railroads, commuter planes, ships and boats.
As board-certified sleep medicine physicians are uniquely qualified to treat sleep diseases, sleep specialists play a pivotal role in combating the nation’s drowsy driving epidemic. Learn how to educate your patients on the risks of driver and operator fatigue. Explore the educational resources featured on Sleep Education and Evolve Sleep to learn more.
Aerial view of the December 1, 2013 Metro North train derailment in Bronx, N.Y. (National Transportation Safety Board)