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Sadly, policies re driver sleep apnea kick in only after crashes

An official with New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently cited the MTA's "established and aggressive sleep apnea screening and treatment program" for all train/bus operators. Sadly, no such protocol was in place when last year's high-profile crash in Brooklyn injured scores of people and caused millions of dollars in property damages.

A sleeping engineer was pointed to by investigators as directly contributing to that accident. The current sleep apnea policy was implemented only following the crash.

Ditto similar facts for a commuter train crash that occurred around the same time in New Jersey. Although the engineer in that case involving a fatality was subsequently diagnosed with sleep apnea, New Jersey Transit authorities commenced a comprehensive screening process for all train crew members only in the wake of the tragedy.

Safety regulators understandably want to see mandatory apnea-linked testing for municipal and private train operators across the country.

Notably, that is currently not the case, with a recent New York Times article noting "the Trump administration's reversal on requiring tests for the disorder." As the result of a regulatory pullback, application and enforcement of rules across the country is presently uneven.

And that both frustrates and baffles many safety officials. The chairman of the country's National Transportation Safety Board stated last week that he was "mystified" by attempts to pull back on proposals addressing what he and others regard as enhanced safety measures.

Mass transit accidents often yield catastrophic injuries for individuals who justifiably rely on operators' competence and adherence to reasonable safety practices. Questions or concerns regarding third-party negligence contributing to a train or bus crash can be directed to a proven law firm with a demonstrated record of strong client advocacy in such matters.

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