MEDICAL CERTIFICATION WATCH: FMCSA hits early goal with largest weekly gain

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Friday, May 16, 2014

The new National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners received its largest increase this week with 2,263 new medical examiners. Less than one week remains before truckers are faced with the mandated use of examiners on the registry for new DOT physicals.

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.

FMCSA Spokesman Duane DeBruyne told Land Line this week that there are now about 46,000 signed up and of those, about half, or 21,838, medical examiners had been fully certified and ready to conduct driver exams.

He said 4,000 more were ready to take the exam.

DeBruyne said there are certified examiners in every state, and dozens or hundreds in most cities. The agency, he says, is closely monitoring the growing list and locations of certified medical examiners to ensure there’s an adequate number to do the job.   

OOIDA is still concerned that may not be enough medical examiners and 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 April, OOIDA officials challenged FMCSA’s estimated workload demands on the medical professionals listed in the registry and petitioned for a delay.

About 54.6 percent of the eventual goal of 40,000 medical examiners has been reached, a 5.66 percent increase from last week. Over 1,000 medical examiners have been added each week since early April. With just a few days to go, the FMCSA National Registry hit their initial goal of 20,000 registered medical examiners by May 21.

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.  

DeBruyne emphasized that most drivers will not need a new physical exam immediately following the May 21 deadline.  Their medical certificates will continue to be valid until the expiration date that is shown on the card.  Only then will the driver need to seek a certified medical examiner.

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

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