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Sleep apnea testing: a waste or a necessity?

Bus accidents, like any vehicle crash, are an inevitable part of driving in New York. Sometimes, simple mistakes can lead to catastrophic incidents, which can then result in injuries and even death. But what if those mistakes were due to inattention of the driver? A large number of bus accidents are due to sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders among drivers. While laws regarding sleep apnea testing for drivers are changing, there remains a popular voice in favor of preparing public transportation drivers for the physical and mental exhaustion that comes with long shifts.

Bus driver training that covers proper attention techniques may seem mandatory, but the Washington Post reported on a recent change in such procedures. According to the report, the Trump administration recently withdrew a proposal that would have required truck, bus drivers and railroad engineers to be tested for a disorder that could cause them to fall asleep on the job. The reactions to this change, however, were not quiet: the Transportation Department pointed out that sleep apnea has been an ongoing issue among drivers, and can ultimately place drivers and passengers at extreme risks. And although standard safety procedures are still in effect, they do not cover the serious issue of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders that could place lives in danger. The new withdrawal of the proposal has certainly sparked controversy, as a plethora of experts still warn the public that avoiding sleep-related testing is only a disaster waiting to happen.

Trump's retraction of the proposal may have been an unwise move in the eyes of health experts, but the New York Post added just days after the announcement of the withdrawal that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority nevertheless plans on continuing testing its train and bus operators for sleep apnea. According to the Post, testing will continue for the New York City Transit, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road. Despite Trump's attempt to cut company regulations, the MTA stresses the importance of driver attention and the responsibility of other lives while behind the wheel.     

 

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