Trains are prevalent in Minnesota both as a method of carting goods and for passengers to get back and forth within the state and outside the state. There is an inherent level of trust that passengers have with its operators and the companies that employ them that health will not be an issue that compromises safety. However, regulatory agencies must have rules to mandate this, and a proposed rule that would have left companies employing train engineers and truckers responsible for testing drivers for sleep apnea has been scrapped by the presidential administration of Donald J. Trump. This can be a concern for people who are close to or are passengers on these trains.
Both the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will not regulate that drivers be tested for this disorder. Sleep apnea was referenced as an issue in train accidents on the east coast and for highway accidents. Individual companies will determine whether this testing should be done, rather than by federal requirement. One railroad that does test employees discovered that nearly 12 percent have sleep apnea.
In late 2016, the FRA stated that railroads should begin testing workers for sleep apnea. This was while the rule to require it was under consideration. With sleep apnea, overnight sleep is interrupted as the person’s airway closes and restricts breathing. The lack of restful sleep can lead to drowsiness during the day. The National Transportation Safety Board says that over the past 17 years, this issue is believed to have led to 10 accidents on the highways and railroads. The NTSB recommended testing for engineers after a 2013 accident was found to have been caused by sleep apnea. Amtrak requires engineers to have this test, but other companies do not.
For people who are either workers or passengers on a railroad and suffer injuries as a victim of a train accident, there can be catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Fatigued railroad workers are a known cause in many of these accidents, and passengers and others who have been affected must understand how to determine if this was the case in their situation. Since railroad regulations do not always test for sleep apnea, after train accidents it is important to know whether this was a cause. Speaking to a legal professional experienced in pursuing compensation after train crashes may prove to be helpful.
Source: CBS News, “Feds scrapping sleep apnea testing plan for truckers, train engineers,” Aug. 8, 2017