Creating a Network of Medical Examiners for Driver Physicals
November 3, 2014
Author: Marica Hueneke, Marketer
The rules and regulations for today’s commercial motor vehicle drivers are always changing. As an organization, it is important to stay on top of all these regulations so your company can continue to grow and have an excellent reputation for safety. Obtaining medical certificates has been a long standing best practice in the transportation industry. However, on May 21, 2014 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established new criteria for driver physicals. They created a new program called The National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (National Registry) which trains state-licensed medical providers to perform physicals on all drivers. And as of May 21, 2014 any driver who needs a medical certificate (either new or renewed), must see an examiner on the National Registry.
This is beneficial to your organization as you now know that all drivers are getting examined by the trained medical providers who are approved by the FMCSA to perform physicals. Driver physical requirements will not change, but your drivers will now see examiners who have had mandatory training and testing to conduct a more thorough exam. This should eliminate any concerns that a driver’s medical records are inaccurate.
Consequently, your drivers may have concerns with seeing a medical examiner from the National Registry. They may have a relationship with their current medical provider who may not be on the list. Also, since they are now trained to do more thorough exams, some drivers may not get the unrestricted two year medical certificate. Certificates will only be issued for those drivers who meet certain standards.
All commercial motor vehicle drivers are required to have a physical and update their certificate every two years. However, the examiner may decide that certain driver(s) need to come in more frequently. Drivers who have a current valid medical certificate do not need to go and get a new certificate from an examiner on the National Registry until their certificate needs to be renewed. For example, if your driver has a medical certificate on file from April 1, 2014 they are not required to get an update until their certificate expires. At that time they must see a physician on the National Registry.
All commercial drivers are required to have and maintain a valid Medical Certificate. Motor Carriers are responsible to verify that their drivers were issued a medical certificate from an examiner on the National Registry and note that in their driver qualification file. However, employers are not required to obtain copies of the medical examination reports.
Also, the FMCSA has the right to void any medical certificate issued by examiners not on the National Registry. Each state has different consequences for failure to keep your medical certification current. In Iowa, for example, driver history record will be changed immediately to “not certified” and a downgrade to non-commercial status will be effective in 60 days. The driver may prevent the downgrade by providing proper documentation. In Texas, a driver will be downgraded to a non-CDL, then will have to reapply/test to get their upgrade.
The number one priority of the FMCSA is safety for your drivers as well as keeping America’s roadways safe. Medical certification is one component to ensuring safety on our roads. Please visit https://nationalregistry.fmcsa.gov.org for a list of the certified medical examiners.