The U.S. Department of Transportation published its final rule to establish a national registry of certified medical examiners.
The new rule requires doctors and other medical professionals who perform DOT-required medical exams to be trained, tested and certified to look for specific physical qualifications that interstate commercial truck and bus drivers must meet.
The rule would take effect in May 2014.
“Safety is our top priority and requires cooperation from everyone involved, including our medical examiners,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a press release. “This new rule will ensure that health care professionals conducting exams keep in mind all of the demands required to operate large trucks and passenger buses safely.”
The rule will mean truck drivers have fewer options, said OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Director Joe Rajkovacz.
“This rule as finalized will likely lead to reduced availability of medical examiners for drivers because of the cost and time associated with the ME getting and maintaining certification,” Rajkovacz said. “It’s also probable that with reduced choice, truckers will pay more for DOT physicals.”
Rajkovacz pointed to an April 2011 article in American Chiropractic Today that said DOT expected to need 40,000 medical examiners for commercial truck and bus drivers.
“It is also anticipated that many of the MDs who currently conduct these physicals will not elect to undergo the new training and certification required for the program,” the article states.
Rajkovacz said the complications of the rule don’t stop there.
“Additionally, the final rule will still require truckers to deliver their certificate to the state drivers license agency,” Rajkovacz said. “There will be no electronic transmission of qualification status directly to a state drivers license agency. Hence, drivers will still be responsible to ensure the state issuing their CDL gets their medical certification information. FMCSA states they deal with this issue in a separate, future rulemaking.”
Under the rule, applicants who wish to be certified as a medical examiner must register through the National Registry website. They’ll then train to pass a certification test required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Medical certificates issued before May 21, 2014, are valid until the expiration date.
The rule also requires medical examiners to electronically transmit the name of the driver being examined to FMCSA. Medical examiners that don’t meet or maintain the rule’s minimum standards would be removed from the National Registry.
For more information on the rule, click here.