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Updated information about the FMCSA proposed medical ruling for CDL requirements.

According to Trasport Topics, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last week issued a final rule requiring all interstate truck drivers to prove they have passed medical examinations and proposed a separate rule setting up a national registry of qualified examiners.

The rule would require proof of an exam to obtain and keep commercial driver license.

This  new rule, long sought by safety advocates, also will require states to merge commerical driver license records and truk drivers’ medical examination certificates into a singe electronic record that law enforcement officials could check at any time.

Current federal regulations require that commercial drivers pass medical exams every two years, but in most states, drivers are required only to prove evidence of their medical certifications to their employers or when asked by roadside inspectors or law enforcement officers.

Under the new rule, drivers will be required to keep their state licensing agencies informed each time they pass their mandated medical exams, which is every two years for drivers who don’t have special medical conditions. Some drivers with medical problems are required to pass medical exams as often as every three months!

The new driver medical requirements are intended to help prevent medically unqualified drivers from operating on the nation’s highways by providing state licensing agencies with a means of identifying interstate CDL holders who are unable to obtain a medical certificate.

FMCSA also said this rule would deter drivers from submitting falsified medical certificates because enforcement personnel would have electronic access to information about the medical certificate and the identity of the medical examiner.

After the new rule is implemented, drivers will no longer be required to carry a medical certification care in thier wallets.

*Did you know… During 2007, FMCSA and its state partners conducted more than 3.4 million roadside inspections, citing drivers with more than 145,000 violations for failing to have medical examination  certificated in their possession and issued 6,105 violations for physically unqualified drivers.

It is said that the propsed medical examiners rule would help prevent “doctor shopping” and fraud.

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  On the heels of a report criticizing the federal governments efforts to ensure that truck drivers are medically qualified, the House transportation committee’s chair man blasted the top   truck safety agency for not living up to tis mission and for dragging its feet on the health issue.

Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, laid into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin. for not moving fast enough to implement congressional mandates or recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.

“It shouldn’t take you eight years. It shouldn’t take you five years. Or three years,” Oberstar said during a July 24 hearing by the committee. “People’s lives are at stake, and they are depending on you and your colleagues. We’ve given you a half-billion dollar [annual] budget, practically, to do this. There is no excuse for foot-dragging.”

Oberstar’s comments were in response to a Government Accountability Office report that said hundreds of thousands of drivers have potentially serious medical conditions, some significant enough to prevent them from driving a truck.

During the hearing, Rose McMurray, FMCSA’s chief safety officer, defended the agency’s work on driver health issues, telling the committee the agency was committed to completing rules later this year that would address most of NTSB’s recommendations.

“Four of the NTSB’s eight most-wanted recommendations will addressed by the medical certification and national registry rules,” she said, adding that the remaining recommendations would be addressed by the agency’s medical review board.

The top Republican on the committee’s panel on highways, Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) also questioned the GAO (Government Accountability Office) conclusions.

“I am concerned this report will be seen by some to imply a broader problem in the CDL population,” he said. “In fact, the report makes it clear that these 15 cases are not representative of the commercial driver population.”

Oberstar was unconvinced and pointed to a report by the transportation committee’s staff that also noted issues with the medical certification program.

“Staff got 600 medical card from drivers at truck weigh stations, and thy tried to verify them with the medical examiners who issued the card, or allegedly issued the card,” he said. “The report documents 30 cases -5%- where the medical examiner didn’t exist, or the medical examiner indicated that the signature of that person had been forged or changed.”

Oberstar, as well as, Rep Peter DeFazio, the chairman of the highways sub-committee, pressed McMurrayto explain why the agency has taken so long with its medical rules, which she said have been “difficult to develop.”

DeFazio asked McMurray if the agency had the resources to complete the rules, but she answered that it wasn’t a “matter of resources, as much as it is a problem of expertise.”

McMurray also said that “other rule-makings” have taken priority over the medical rules, but without specifying which ones.

The rules are also complicated by cost issues, she said, telling Oberstar they are “a significant burden on states.”

That burden, McMurray said, comes in costs to upgrade information technology to handle new databases, and new training requirements for enforcement officers and medical examiners.

“The sheer size of the driver population will require thousands of certified medical examiners to evaluate drivers,” McMurray also added.

Oberstar, however, said the agency lacked “a safety mindset,” and, if it had one, “you would have done this in the last eight years.”

“What we need is will -and willpower- at the highest levels, he said. “And it is apparent there isn’t that will at the level of the secretary of Transportation and permeates all the way down through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.”

 

 

Tired foreign truck drivers have been pleading with UK police to arrest them so they can get some food and sleep, says a senior officer. Chief superintendent Ceraint Anwyl, chairman of the National Roads Policing, says drivers have been phoning forces across Britain to ask to spend the night in jail so they can take a break from driving, despite the fact it also means paying a fine. The drivers give details of their registration and where they are.

They are often discovered to have been driving unsafe vehicles for 30 hours without a break, and are arrested and charged with failing to keep a proper driving record or ignoring tachograph readings. Anwyl says: “They say I am tired. I have been driving for so many hours; please stop me because I’m dangerous on the road. If you do, I promise I’ll never work for this company again.”

It has come to the point where truckers have to turn themselves in because they are so tired, that’s just so sad to hear. There are so many dangers with someone aiding a large vehicle and not being completely coherent, and drowsy. Hopefully things will look up when D.O.T makes some changes to help these drivers. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have the many things it take to supply a home, a business, and our economy.

 

 

DOT (Department of Transportation) proposal requires testing

The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed new regulations that would require truck drivers at risk for sleep apnea to get tested and treated in order to obtain their licenses.

The move is aimed at reducing the number of truck crashes caused by driver fatigue, said Rex Patty, a nurse practitioner at WorkCare, a regional healthcare in Topka, Kan.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that approximately 141,000 large truck crashes that occurred during a 33-month study perios  18,000 or 13% were related to drivre fatigue.

Not all driver fatigue is the result of sleep apnea, but about 28% of truckers amy be at risk, compared to around 10% in the general population, said Patty.

Drivers with certain risk factors for OSA would be evaluated by a DOT provider and, if necessary, referred to their private physician for a sleep study.

It is estimated that 45% to 50% of (at risk) drivers will need additional evalation, and 70% of that outcome would need treatment known as the CPAP therapy; or Continouse Positive Airway Pressure.

Drivers diagnosed with OSA would need at least one week of treatment before they could get back behind the wheel. They would need to meet a minimym compliance of four hours or more each night 70% of the time, with periodic re-evaluations to maintain their license.

Trucking companies and independent drivers aren’t embracing the proposed rules. The most talked about is cost. On average, and depending on the severity of a persons OSA, CPAP machines and specific testings could cost up to $1,000.

  Cost concerns go well beyond intitial diagnosis and treatment.

DOT made is very clear that ‘If they are not compliant, they are disqualified to drive.’  Trucking companies can have a driver they depend on that can’t drive, and at this point, nobody knows how they get re-qualified. They are still under determination for what that may mean.

  It could be six months to a year before the proposal is finalized.


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