Over one month later and just a few days after the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners officially went into full effect, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has responded to OOIDA’s petition to delay the program.
In a letter dated May 22, head of FMCSA Anne Ferro denied OOIDA’s petition to extend the compliance date for the National Registry.
Administrator Ferro stated in her letter that the agency believes “there are a sufficient number of certified medical examiners available to address the medical certification needs of interstate truck and bus drivers who have medical certificates due to expire on or shortly after May 21, 2014.” OOIDA argued that the numbers calculated by FMCSA were insufficient and would cause issues for truckers seeking to renew their medical certification.
“Whether 20,000 is enough or 40,000 is enough is yet to be determined. We have millions of drivers that come under the medical qualifications requirements,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line. “We have become way too accustomed to seeing numbers manipulated to serve the end goal.”
In response to the issues of longer wait times for appointments, greater travel distance and increased costs of exams, FMCSA noted that they “considered the impact of the rulemaking on small businesses and drivers.” FMCSA acknowledged that they are relying on the private sector when it comes to issues about fair market prices.
“There are out-of-pocket costs that drivers will incur in traveling to and from these facilities. Maybe these appointments will have to be made weeks ahead of time,” Spencer said. “Often times many drivers certainly don’t know where they’re going to be weeks ahead of time.”
Spencer also mentioned that although FMCSA’s actions are not without merit, issues concerning the health of truckers are insignificant compared to all other contributing factors in highway safety.
“The numbers they have now that are tied to CSA don’t indicate any correlation between violations in this area and crashes, whatsoever,” Spencer said.
On May 8, the American Trucking Associations filed a similar letter to FMCSA requesting a six-month delay of the NRCME. To date, no known response has been received regarding that letter.
NRCME’s deadline for compliance was May 21, and it is now required for any commercial drivers needing to renew their medical cards to visit a certified examiner. Certified examiners can be located by city, state or ZIP code on FMCSA’s website.
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