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U.S., Canada reach agreement on commercial driver conditions

The U.S. and Canada have reached an agreement on reciprocity of the medical fitness requirements for drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Kenneth Wykle, FHWA administrator, says that the two countries have determined that the medical provisions of the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Canadian National Safety Code (NSC) are equivalent.

However, Canadian drivers who are insulin-using diabetics, who are hearing-impaired, or who have epilepsy will not be permitted to operate commercial vehicles in the U.S. because U.S. regulations prohibit those individuals from operating CMVs in U.S. interstate commerce.

Likewise, commercial motor vehicle drivers who do not meet the requirements of their country's regulations and have been granted a waiver, exemption or grandfather rights, will not be able to drive a truck in the neighboring country. The U.S. and Canada have agreed to notify affected drivers by letter that they will not be able to drive in trans-border operations.

The U.S. and Canada have agreed to adopt an international licensing code, to be displayed on the license and the driving record, to identify commercial drivers who are not qualified to operate outside the borders of their country. This code will be mutually agreed upon before April 1, 2000, and implemented in both countries before April 1, 2002.

The two countries will recognize the Canadian CDL as proof of medical fitness to driver, thus eliminating the requirement for Canadian drivers to obtain a U.S. medical examiner's certificate. If the U.S. adopts a proposal to merge medical fitness determinations with the licensing process, Canada has agreed that it, too, will recognized the U.S. commercial driver's license as proof of medical fitness to driver. U.S. truckdrivers must now show their CDL as proof as well as medical fitness to Canadian authorities at the border.

The agreement takes effect March 30, 1999. 

Tougher tests for Ontario truckers

According to Transportation Minister Tony Clement, would-be truckers in Ontario will face tougher written exams. By the middle of next month the written part of the Class A license will include, for the first time, questions on pre-trip inspections drivers are expected to conduct and safety defects that transportation ministry officials will police during roadside checks.

By summer, driver licenses will be restricted to the types of vehicles on which truckers have had road tests. Under current rules, drivers can pass road tests using a pickup truck and horse trailer but then take much larger vehicles out on the highway. According to Canadian news sources, Clement said if the ministry wants to tackle road safety for Canadian trucks, the test will have to be comprehensive. 

More northern exposure

The Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) has expanded its federal government regulatory liaison to include Canadian governmental authorities. William A. Leasure, Jr., executive director, announced in January that TMA plans to engage in cooperative research and an exchange of technical information with various Canadian agencies on issues affecting TMA's business.