The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Wednesday, April 18, announced its long-awaited final rule setting training and testing standards for medical professionals who conduct required physicals on commercial drivers. Under the rule first proposed in 2008, FMCSA also will maintain the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners to help drivers find certified examiners. The final rule also requires medical examiners to identify drivers they have examined to FMCSA.
Under the final rule, healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations for interstate truck and bus drivers must be trained, tested and certified on the specific physical qualifications that affect a driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle.
“Safety is our top priority and requires cooperation from everyone involved, including our medical examiners,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This new rule will ensure that healthcare professionals conducting exams keep in mind all of the demands required to operate large trucks and passenger buses safely.”
FMCSA developed the NRCME final rule as part of the agency’s commitment to enhancing the medical oversight of interstate drivers and preventing commercial vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. The agency said the rule addresses four National Transportation Safety Board recommendations on comprehensive training for medical examiners and tracking of driver medical certificates.
In 30 days, FMCSA will post its uniform training and testing standards for medical examiners at http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/. At that time, health care professionals, drivers, employers, law enforcement officers and the public can review the training standards and sign up to receive updates on the implementation of the rule.
By May 21, 2014, all certified medical examiners must be on the National Registry database, and drivers must obtain a medical examination from a certified examiner. Medical examiners who fail to maintain federal standards will be removed from the registry. To allow time for testing and training centers to prepare their curricula and receive FMCSA approval, healthcare professionals seeking to become certified examiners can begin registering on the National Registry Website this summer.
“Truck and bus drivers deserve highly-trained medical examiners that think safety first,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “By holding medical examiners accountable to high standards of practice, we raise the bar for safety and save lives through increased commercial driver and vehicle safety.”
Medical examiners perform about three million examinations on commercial truck and bus drivers each year. A U.S> Department of Transportation medical exam looks at a range of conditions to determine a driver’s medical fitness, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision and hearing. All commercial drivers must pass a DOT medical examination at least every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate, maintain their commercial driver’s license and legally drive a commercial motor vehicle.
For more information on the NRCME final rule, go to www.regulations.gov; the docket number is FMCSA-2008-0363.