U.S. DOT Raises Standards for Trucker Medical Examiners
The unique dangers of a motor-vehicle accident involving a semi truck or coach bus are well known and obvious. No one can deny the high potential for serious injury and fatalities in an impact with an object that weighs tons and travels at highway speeds.
That danger puts the importance of the health of commercial drivers in perspective. Anyone who operates a large commercial vehicle should be in good health in order to drive as safely as possible for the good of him or herself and the traveling public.
Health problems can cause dangerous symptoms like loss of consciousness or severe fatigue while driving. To increase the chances that commercial drivers will not be in bus or truck accidents due to health problems, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently issued new rules requiring a special certification process for medical examiners of interstate truckers and bus drivers. The new regulations will require that these important medical professionals receive specific training on the medical conditions that most negatively impact driving ability.
The new certification process will be developed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and certified health care examiners will be listed in a national database on the Internet: the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The FMCSA's new standards will be released in mid-May 2012.
Drivers of interstate commercial buses and big rigs are required to maintain medical certifications as part of their commercial drivers licenses. By May 21, 2014, all federally certified examiners must be in the National Registry and drivers may only go to those approved examiners for their required health checks.
The new rule is a big deal; according to TheTrucker.com, about 3 million interstate truck or bus driver medical examinations are given annually. Some of the health conditions examined include vision and hearing acuity, heart and lung function and so on.