Back in May 2012, FMCSA established a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners to improve highway safety and driver health. For this to be effective, FMCSA set the number at 40,000 medical examiners to be registered by the compliance date of May 21, 2014. As of March 21, 2014, the total number of registered medical examiners is 9,505.
Only 23.76 percent of the goal of 40,000 medical examiners has been reached, with two months left to go. Since the beginning of March, there has been an average increase of only 1.7 percent each week. At this rate, only 15,624 medical examiners will be registered by the May 21 deadline.
“It’s a source of concern for us,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “It also should be a source of concern for the agency.”
According to the FMCSA’s final rule proposal, 40,000 medical examiners will be enough to cover the vast area of 3,140 counties in the United States. During the early stages rulemaking process, it was pointed out during the comments that a shortage of examiners could mean that many drivers will have to drive a few hundred miles out of their way to complete their certification. Fewer examiners could also lead to longer wait times for drivers and no opportunities for walk-ins.
Although the numbers appear to be low, FMCSA has said that they are on track. Back in August 2013, FMCSA pointed out that 10,474 medical professionals had signed up, but they have not completed the necessary training and testing. FMCSA expects the number of registered examiners to grow, noting that many people tend to wait until the last minute to take the test.
The National Registry requires drivers to receive medical certification from medical professionals who are part of the registry. Official examiners will be trained on FMCSA’s regulations and the physical standards of the truck driving industry. In the past, any licensed professional could certify a driver for physical qualification.
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