OOIDA petitions to extend medical examiner rule deadline

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 4/8/2014

With less than two months to go before the deadline for the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners final rule to go into effect, the lack of physicians on the registry prompted OOIDA to ask for an extension of the compliance deadline on Tuesday, April 8.

The National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners regulation requires any medical professional who wants to conduct DOT physicals to sign up and go through training before being registered with the agency. After May 21, truck drivers will then only be able to get DOT physicals from medical professionals listed on the registry.

As of April 4, there were only 11,999 individuals officially listed on the registry as able to conduct DOT physicals after May 21. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials estimate the registry will need to have 40,000 medical professionals participating in order to handle the estimated 4.6 million exams annually. However, the agency has stated in the final rule it anticipates only needing 20,000 to handle the exams initially when the rule goes into effect.

In the April 8 petition for a direct final rulemaking to extend the May 21 deadline, OOIDA officials challenge FMCSA’s estimated workload demands on the medical professionals listed in the registry. The Association contends the lack of a sufficient number of medical professionals will create hardships on CDL holders seeking to get or renew medical certification in a timely basis.

FMCSA estimated that 7 million CMV drivers were required to obtain medical certificates.

In its petition, OOIDA factors the estimated 7 million drivers into the calculations used in the notice of proposed rulemaking. The Association estimates an average of 3.5 million drivers would require medical certification each year and that would be increased by 31 percent for those who must be certified more frequently than every two years. That means 4.6 million drivers would need certification each year, according to the Association in the petition.

“If each examiner performed an average 75 examinations each year, then over 61,000 medical examiners would be necessary to serve the members of the regulated industry,” the petition states.

“Under any of these estimates, the current number of registered medical examiners will fail to be able to examine a significant number of the CMV operators before their current medical certification expires,” OOIDA’s petition states. “Many drivers will simply be unable to find registered examiners to certify them before their prior certification expires. This will cause interruptions in their employability, frustrate their ability to conduct their businesses, and do damage to their relationship with their employer or other transportation partners who rely upon them.”

In petitioning for the extension, OOIDA points out that FMCSA has already extended the compliance deadline for a related medical certification rule. The Medical Certification Requirements as Part of the Commercial Driver’s License requires CDL holders to provide proof of medical certification to their home state drivers’ licensing agency. The regulation would have eliminated the need to carry proof of medical certification on the road after Jan. 14.

But not all states were prepared to transmit the proof of medical certification to the DOT for roadside law enforcement to access. So FMCSA extended the requirement to carry proof of medical certification on the road for another year.

In the petition asking for the extension of the medical registry deadline, the Association has requested the agency forgo a comment period because of the shortness of time until the deadline and proceed with a direct final rule setting a new compliance deadline.

Copyright © OOIDA