Changes coming soon to DOT exams

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 11/20/2015

In the ever-changing world of Department of Transportation medical exams for truck drivers, Dec. 22 marks the compliance deadline for the latest round of tweaks to the exam process.

In April, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a final rule that sets up a series of changes to medical exams starting in December. Most notable is a change to the medical history form truck drivers will have to fill out before the exam.

The agency retooled the driver health history portion of the form to include a number of new questions. In the final rule, the agency expanded the medical history criteria and incorporated those criteria into the regulations. A new medical form included in the final rule now has 32 health conditions listed under the medical history portion of the rule. Of those conditions, 13 are new to the form.

Beyond the additional health conditions, the agency also modified the duration of the history to be reported to the medical examiner from five years to lifetime. The form now states: “Do you have or have you ever had.” Drivers will have the option to select “not sure” on the medical history portion of the form.

Once a driver begins a DOT exam, if the medical examiner decides he or she needs more information before determining certification, the driver will have 45 days to return for follow-up. The 45-day window will only keep the pending exam open; it will not extend the expiration date of the current medical certification. A second new option is to not complete exams. But, as the final rule’s various requirements hit compliance deadlines, eventually incomplete medical exams will be reported to FMCSA.

As before, drivers still can seek a second opinion following a failed DOT medical exam. It is stressed by OOIDA to be sure to fill out all paperwork the same way at the second-opinion visit as at the initial exam.

OOIDA also encourages drivers with medical certifications, especially 30-, 60- or 90-day cards, to get an updated exam before Dec. 22 and avoid confusion with the rollout of the new forms and procedures.

The April final rule was supposed to eliminate the need for drivers to report their medical certification to state drivers licensing agencies beginning June 22, 2018. In the meantime, it’s still advisable to carry a copy of your medical certificate for roadside inspection in case the state licensing agency has not updated your electronic records.

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