The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has implemented new regulations through a Medical Program that will address health-related safety concerns. These new policies will change the standards for obtaining a commercial driver’s license, as well as increasing the standards for keeping a CDL current. The compliance date for these new regulations is January 20, 2014.
FMSCA created this Medical Program to promote the safety of America's roadways and ensure professional drivers are physically qualified to conduct their work. Roadway safety has been proven an issue in the recent study by the American Association of Justice. This study showed that "though trucks make up less than 4% of all passenger vehicles on U.S. roads, they are involved in 12% of all motor vehicle fatalities, kill over 4000 people each year, and seriously injure another 80,000 people.” Driver fatigue or other health-related issues caused approximately 15% of these 4,000 fatalities, according to the FMCSA.
Reducing the number of accidents due to driver fatigue will start with driver medical examinations. On and after May 21, 2014, each medical examination required by law must be conducted by a medical examiner listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (§ 391.42). FMSCA is planning to train over 40,000 medical examiners in order to perform three million exams each year.
Drivers applying for or renewing their CDL under the non-exempted interstate category must provide an original or copy of their medical examiner’s certificate to their State Driver License Agency (SDLA), or DMV. As of January 30, 2012, current CDL holders did not have to have their medical certificate on file, but will now need to obtain and submit a medical certificate no later than January 30, 2014. The purpose of the change is to link the medical certificate to the CDL and include the driver medical record in the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS), the federal electronic database.
Another significant area the program is going to address is driver sleep deprivation. According to Department of Transportation data, 28% of commercial drivers suffer from sleep apnea. The certified medical examiners will be screening for sleep apnea and if it is suspected, further testing will be required. If a driver tests positive for sleep apnea, a treatment plan will be established. The driver must follow the treatment plan and send in reports of their progression in order to keep their CDL. The drivers suspected of sleep apnea will most likely be required to take a sleep deprivation test. The test required to determine sleep deprivation is easy to conduct, but expensive. The national average for a sleep study test is $2,625.
Tests can be completed while you are on the road or at home with a device supplied by your doctor.
Your two most important assets are your truck and your health. What good is having a truck if you can’t drive it due to these new FMCSA regulations? Stay healthy and make a good night’s sleep a priority while you are on the road.
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