NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The problem is not a lack of sleep, it’s a lack of parking, said truckers Chris and Michelle Lole recently when asked if they thought the government should be able to require sleep apnea testing for drivers with a certain body type.
Many in trucking think a mandate requiring truckers to get sleep apnea testing if they have a large body mass index or BMI, and/or a large neck circumference is down the road once Hours of Service, texting bans and electronic onboard recorder (EOBR) rulemakings are dealt with.
Chris and Michelle, based out of Summit, Ill., said daytime parking is fairly easy to come by but that nighttime parking is a different story.
“Past 8 o’clock at night the parking lots start filling up,” noted Michelle Lole. The couple hauls a dry van to all of the 48 states.
“The government regulates us too much as it is,” said husband Chris.
Laura and Wade Grife, out of Deer River, Minn., own their own trucking company and were quick to comment on a possible sleep apnea testing mandate.
“I would say if you’re not getting enough sleep then OK, a driver should get himself checked out,” said Laura Grife. However, she added that some people, like her husband, are just “built thick.”
Wade Grife didn’t look to be overweight but she said he has a thick neck and wondered if he would be required to be tested under such a proposal.
“Everybody has a different body structure” and therefore shouldn’t be lumped together, said Laura, while her husband said such a requirement would be “judgmental.”
“They’re trying to regulate everything,” he said.
The couple own two trucks but are just running one truck at present while waiting for the economy to pick back up.
Rose Banks, who with her husband, Jack, travels “all over the U.S.,” felt that “any extra effort for safety should be done,” while Danny Jones, a trucker for Miller Transports, agreed with the drivers who said CMV drivers are already over-regulated by the government.
“They’re already telling us what we can and can’t do,” said Jones, who is based out of Pryor, Okla.
Jones hauls mostly regional loads, and he wondered whether such a mandate wouldn’t hurt the trucking industry.
“I don’t know, everybody’s body size is different,” he said. “If they make it [sleep apnea testing] mandatory you’re going to lose a lot of drivers.”
He’s been trying to get a jump start in case such a rule does eventually come about.
“I’ve been working hard and getting serious” about losing weight, said Jones, adding that he’s already lost some weight but could stand to lose some more.
He said he doesn’t think a sleep apnea testing rule should be a one-size-fits-all regulation.
Currently, the medical examiner is supposed to have say-so over whether a driver is at risk for sleep apnea and whether he or she gets tested. But some drivers say their companies are the ones mandating testing.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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