FMCSA Improves Commercial Truck, Bus Drivers' Medical Requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced it took new steps toward improving standards and setting uniform requirements for medical examiners, while also finalizing a streamlined process for combining the commercial driver's license (CDL) and medical certificate records for commercial truck and bus drivers operating on the nation's roads.

On Dec. 1, FMCSA issued a final rule that will require states to merge the commercial driver's license (CDL) and the driver's medical examination certificate into a single electronic record. When fully implemented by the states in three years, the new combined CDL will streamline record keeping obligations for the states and CDL holders, while providing instant electronic access to CDL holder's medical certificate by state and federal enforcement officials.

"While we have made significant improvements in motor carrier safety, these actions will support and strengthen our continuing commitment to ensure that only medically qualified individuals are allowed to operate an interstate truck or bus. Safety is our paramount responsibility," said John H. Hill, FMCSA administrator.

In addition, the rule requires states to take enforcement actions against CDL holders if they do not provide medical certification status information within the deadline.

FMCSA also issued a related rulemaking that would establish a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners to ensure that physical qualification examinations of CDL holders are performed by qualified medical practitioners and are administered in a uniform and consistent manner. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners would create certification standards, including a training and testing program, and a National Registry of medical examiners who are qualified to conduct examinations of interstate truck and bus drivers.

The proposal would require the medical examiner to electronically transmit to FMCSA the name and a numerical identifier for each driver who is examined. The proposal also would create a process by which medical examiners who fail to meet or maintain the minimum standards would be removed from the National Registry.

NPRM for the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners can be found at www.regulations.gov, docket number FMCSA-2008-0363. Public comments on the proposal should be submitted by Jan. 30, 2009. The final rule on Medical Certification Requirements as Part of the CDL is available for review at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

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