A longstanding Department of Transportation policy requires people with a commercial driver’s license to get a medical physical every other year to maintain that license. The goal of the policy is to prevent, or at least minimize bus and truck crashes that result from a medical emergency of the driver. Questions about the effectiveness of that policy have led to new federal regulations set to take effect next year. The new policy will restrict which medical providers can sign off on a DOT physical by requiring them to go through a certification process. The certification will ensure that the provider understands the medical requirements set by the DOT and will know what needs to be done to test the driver’s health condition.
At present, any physician or chiropractor can issue a medical card to a driver. A driver who is denied a medical card from one provider can search for a more lenient physician and gain clearance to drive. If a physician is not aware of the standards set forth by the Department of Transportation, he or she may issue the card based on an insufficient medical examination. Once the new regulations are in place, only doctors who have taken the day-long certification course will be able to issue such cards. In addition, certified physicians will be required to provide the DOT with information about every driver they have examined. A doctor who regularly provides medical cards to drivers who turn out to be in questionable health can be quickly identified.
Certification classes are currently being offered in anticipation of the May 2014 start date for the new regulations.
Source: Red Wing Republican Eagle, “New regulations will require bus, truck drivers to get certified exams,” by Sarah Gorvin, 16 November 2012