Lawmakers want Transportation Secretary Chao to reevaluate sleep apnea rule

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WASHINGTON — Four Democratic U.S. Senators are calling on U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to reconsider the U.S. Department of Transportation’s sleep apnea rule that was recently withdrawn from the agency’s rulemaking platform.

In a letter addressed to Chao this week, the lawmakers referenced the importance of sleep apnea and its abilities to interrupt a person’s breathing. The senators said that sleep apnea has been linked to a number of recent rail and truck accidents.

Specifically, the senators mentioned the December 2013 Metro-North Railroad derailment in New York that was caused by obstructive sleep apnea’s affect on the conductor. The incident resulted in four deaths and more than 60 injuries.

In 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board faulted both Metro-North for not screening its employees for sleep apnea and the Federal Railroad Administration for not mandating the evaluations.

Now, the NTSB is wrapping up its investigation into the 2016 Hoboken, N.J., incident on NJ Transit that killed one person and injured more than 100 people. According to the investigation, the train’s engineer suffered from undiagnosed sleep apnea, which could have led to the inability to slow the train down prior to it striking a station abutment.

The senators expressed their concern regarding the federal government’s decision to withdraw the rulemaking process for sleep apnea testing and treatment and asked Chao to provide them with information on why the rule was withdrawn.

The senators are Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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