MEDICAL CERTIFICATION WATCH: National Registry receives a much needed boost

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 4/25/2014

The new National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners received a large boost this week with 1,667 new medical examiners. One month remains before truckers are faced with the mandated use of examiners on the registry for medical certification.

Back in May 2012, FMCSA established a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners to improve highway safety and driver health. The compliance date is May 21, 2014. 

The agency estimated in the final rule that 20,000 certified medical examiners would be needed by May 21 and, as the program rolled out, eventually about 40,000 would be needed 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. 

In the April 8 petitionfor 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.

In its petition, OOIDA officials challenge not only the sufficiency of 20,000 medical examiners to start with, but the overall goal of 40,000 to serve all of the truck drivers needing medical certification on not only an every other year basis, but those drivers with shorter certification periods.

As of April 18, 2014, the total number of registered medical examiners is 15,621.

About 39.05 percent of the eventual goal of 40,000 medical examiners has been reached, a 4.16 percent increase from last week. This marks the second-highest weekly increase since keeping score on March 4. Since the beginning of March, there has been an average increase of only 2.68 percent each week. In the coming weeks, an average increase of 2.74 percent will be needed in order to reach 20,000 registered examiners by the deadline. Although cutting it close, the previous two weeks netted a 4.16 and 2.95 percent increase.

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.

Related articles:
Common sense, real math needed to retool medical registry estimates
OOIDA petitions to extend medical examiner rule deadline

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