New medical exam requirements for commercial drivers established by FMCSA

posted on:
June 23, 2014

author:
Chris Glover

An important regulation recently passed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) seeks to make a positive impact on the trucking industry. Effective as of May 21, 2014, all U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) physicals must be performed by a qualified health professional listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The FMCSA reiterates the importance of every commercial truck and bus driver being qualified, alert and focused while they are driving, and this new requirement is made in an effort to improve the safety of travelers and the health of commercial drivers.

The program sets baseline training and testing standards for medical professionals who perform commercial driver physicals and for tracking of driver medical certificates. The individuals who are part of the National Registry have a thorough understanding of DOT fitness standards and will be able to ensure that the drivers meet the health requirements necessary to operate on our highways and roads.

So far, there are approximately 22,000 medical professionals who have completed the coursework and testing and are already listed on the National Registry, and there are another 27,000 who have begun the certification process. These individuals will be required to take part in periodic training and recertification testing to maintain their qualifications, otherwise they will be removed from the National Registry for failure to maintain federal standards.

All interstate commercial truck and bus drivers are required to pass a USDOT medical examination at least every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate, maintain their Commercial Driver License (CDL), and legally operate a commercial motor vehicle. The medical examination focuses on a wide range of conditions to assess a driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision and hearing.

Those commercial drivers who currently hold medical certificates will continue to be valid until the expiration date shown on the card. At that time the driver will need to seek a certified medical examiner to perform a new examination. To assist drivers, a website has been set up by FMCSA where drivers can easily search for a Certified Medical Examiner in their area. The website address is http://nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov.

This newly implemented program is taking aim at enhancing the medical oversight of interstate drivers and preventing commercial vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. Chris Glover of our firm is one of the lawyers who handles commercial truck cases and can be reached at chris.glover@beasleyallen.com.

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