Changes in the works for medical certifications

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to propose a rule in 2006 to link a truck driver’s medical certificate to his state-issued commercial driver’s license.

“Right now, drivers have a driver’s license and a piece of paper that says they are medically qualified. Our proposal is to merge the truck driver’s medical information with the CDL data system,” Annette Sandberg, FMCSA administrator, said at a recent public meeting in Washington, D.C.

The federal rule hasn’t been proposed formally, but Indiana and Arizona already have similar rules.

The FMCSA also would like to establish a national registry of certified medical examiners by 2009, Sandberg said. Only examinations conducted by someone on the registry would be accepted as proof of driving fitness by FMCSA.

Such a registry is one of the initial goals of the newly formed National Academy of DOT Medical Examiners. Other goals include establishing national standards of driver fitness and a standardized test to determine the proficiency of the medical examiners.

The academy was formed after the National Transportation Safety Board declared that “serious flaws exist in the medical certification process for commercial vehicle drivers.” For more information on the academy, visit www.nadme.org.