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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

What is OSA?

OSA is a respiratory disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. OSA is characterized by repeated episodes of upper airway collapse in the region of the upper throat (pharynx) that results in intermittent periods of partial airflow obstruction (hypopneas), complete airflow obstruction (apneas), and respiratory effort-related arousals from sleep (RERAs) in which affected individuals awaken partially and may experience gasping and choking as they struggle to breathe. Individuals who have undiagnosed OSA are often unaware they have experienced periods of sleep interrupted by breathing difficulties (apneas, hypopneas, or RERAs) when they awaken in the morning. As a result, the condition is often unrecognized by affected individuals and underdiagnosed by medical professionals.

For individuals with OSA, eight hours of sleep can be less restful or refreshing than four hours of ordinary, uninterrupted sleep.  Undiagnosed or inadequately treated moderate to severe OSA can cause unintended sleep episodes and resulting deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, and memory, thus reducing the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive duties. Thus, OSA is a critical safety issue that can affect operations in all modes of travel in the transportation industry.

About the OSA Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are seeking public input on the impacts of screening and treating commercial motor vehicle drivers and rail workers for OSA. The joint ANPRM is the first step as both agencies consider whether to propose requirements specifically on OSA.

FMCSA and FRA will host three public listening sessions to gather input on OSA in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles. Further information will be announced and posted here as soon as details are confirmed.

FMCSA and FRA encourage the public to participate in this ANPRM by submitting comments and related materials to the appropriate dockets. Where possible, both Agencies would like the public to provide scientific peer-reviewed data to support comments.

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