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Today’s Pickup: Schumer calls for sleep apnea testing rule to be reconsidered

Good day,

Just days after the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would no longer seek a federal rule to test train and truck operators for sleep apnea, Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) blasted the agency and demanded it reconsider the rule.

“It doesn’t take Albert Einstein to understand why it is so important to begin the process of requiring sleep apnea testing across-the-board and at the federal level,” Schumer said while standing at the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Mineola station on Tuesday. “We don’t want train engineers with undiagnosed sleep apnea, who actually hold lives in their hands, to fall asleep at the switch and we don’t want big-rig drivers to doze off at the wheel.  That’s why NTSB’s recommendations to get this done should be the law of the land and why I have pushed so hard on this subject for years.”

A proposed rule requiring testing of train and truck operators was dropped as part of the Trump administration’s push to eliminate regulations that could impact economic growth, the Atlantic said.

A number of high profile train crashes in the Northeast in recent years have been attributed to sleep apnea, including a Jan. 4 LIRR accident that injured 103 people. The National Transportation Safety Board has called for sleep apnea testing for commercial operators for more than 10 years.

The MTA, which oversees LIRR as well as New York’s transit system, is moving forward with a sleep apnea testing program, although Schumer believes it should be mandated for all railroads and commercial trucking so companies can’t choose to stop testing at some point.

Did you know?

As of 2016, U.S. West Coast ports received 53.8% of containerized cargo into the country, but that is expected to shrink in the coming years as more East Coast and Gulf Coast ports accept larger vessels due to the Panama Canal expansion, according to JLL Ports Airports and Global Infrastructure (PAGI) 2017 Seaport report.


“This abrupt and uncalled for withdrawal [of the sleep apnea proposed rule] by USDOT commemorates a disaster waiting to happen and that’s why I’m now calling on the both of these agencies to get these rules and this process back on track. It is high time to move forward with making sleep apnea testing a federal requirement, no ifs ands or butts about it.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY

In other news:

New rule could alter ability of diabetic truckers to drive

FMCSA has proposed a new rule that would revise a 2015 rule on diabetic truck drivers. Input is being sought on a new rule that would give medical examiners the ability to deny medical certificates to diabetic drivers. (CCJ[U1] )

Mexico, Canada resist U.S. push against duty-free changes

A U.S. push to raise the minimum dollar value of duty-free imports is meeting resistance from Mexico and Canada, who believe it could open the door to more Asian imports into the U.S. (Reuters)

Used truck sales jump in June

Sales of used trucks rose 17% in June, but concerns remain about excessive inventory building, according to data from ACT Research. (Transport Topics)

11 states in the running for joint Toyota-Mazda plant

Eleven states have expressed interest in hosting a new joint manufacturing plant to build Toyota and Mazda vehicles. (Wall Street Journal)

Turning old malls into distribution centers

As last-mile delivery requirements change due to e-commerce, retailers are searching for more local distribution centers to speed delivery. They may be finding that in old malls and abandoned storefronts. (Wall Street Journal)

Final Thoughts

There are 11 states competing to have Toyota and Mazda build their planned $1.6 billion plant in their states. The plant is expended to produce up to 4,000 jobs and untold millions in revenue for states due to additional jobs as suppliers pop up near the plants.

Hammer down everyone!

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]