Interstate truck drivers are now required to have physicals performed by health professionals listed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, according to a rule that took effect May 21.
The registry currently lists 22,000 examiners, and the FMCSA said 27,000 are currently in the process of being certified.
This new law, according to a press release, addresses recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board. Drivers will need to obtain new physicals only when the expiration date shown on their license passes. Physicals are required every two years in order for drivers to keep their licenses.
“Safety is our highest priority and it is vital that every commercial truck and bus driver be qualified, alert, and focused when they are behind the wheel,” Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Medical examiners equipped with a thorough understanding of DOT fitness standards will be able to ensure that commercial drivers meet the health requirements necessary to operate on our highways and roads, thereby strengthening safety for every traveler.”
In April, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association asked the FMCSA to extend the deadline because, as the group’s executive vice president, Todd Spencer, put it, it’s concerning that “so few examiners have registered so far. And it should be a source of serious concern for the agency.”
The organization said that 25 percent of the examiners needed have signed up, and it is concerned that truckers will face a costly and burdensome certification process if the deadline is not extended.
“The artificial shortage of examiners could mean that many drivers will have to drive a few hundred miles out of their way to complete their certification,” according to the organization.