OOIDA challenges medical certification rule

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 11/10/2016

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is challenging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rule on medical examiner’s certification integration, saying the agency added regulations that bypassed the rulemaking process.

OOIDA filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis. The Association’s arguments on the matter are due Dec. 19.

FMCSA issued a final rule in April 2015 that required certified medical examiners, who perform physicals on drivers of commercial motor vehicles, to use a new medical form. The agency announced it was creating procedures by which medical examiners would submit the results of driver medical examinations to the states so that a driver’s medical certification would be combined with the commercial driver’s license.

OOIDA contends, however, that the final rule added an Appendix A that wasn’t contained in the proposal. Included in the appendix is a section on respiratory dysfunction, which lists sleep apnea as one of the conditions. The appendix says “if the medical examiner detects a respiratory dysfunction that in any way is likely to interfere with the driver’s ability to safely control and drive a commercial motor vehicle, the driver must be referred to a specialist for further evaluation and therapy.”

“The final rule added something not contained in the proposed rule,” OOIDA attorney Paul D. Cullen Jr. said.

The end result is a regulation that includes instruction that examiners should consider whether the driver has obstructive sleep apnea, Cullen said.

In October 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill requiring the FMCSA to use a formal rulemaking process before requiring sleep apnea testing for commercial truck drivers.

Included in the final regulation was Appendix A. Cullen said the agency is referring the appendix as “strictly guidelines” for how medical examiners should review different areas of a driver’s heath.

“While FMCSA has used guidelines on such issues for several years, never before had the guidelines been made a part of the Code of Federal Regulations,” he said.

“And now the agency has amended the rules without following the required rulemaking procedures: proposing it first, taking public comment, doing a cost benefit analysis and justifying the rules in consideration of public comment and other public information in its possession. FMCSA simply added this to the final rule.”

In previous comments regarding the final rule, OOIDA said drivers are the ones forced to pay for the arbitrary standards.

“These practices pull safe drivers off the road for protracted periods of time and force them to spend thousands of dollars on unwarranted tests and expensive exams,” OOIDA wrote. “In worst-case situations, safe driving careers are ended and small businesses are forced to close. OOIDA members have experienced these consequences firsthand on too many occasions.”

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