It is not new that the Department of Transportation requires anyone with a commercial driver’s license to obtain a medical physical every two years if they want to keep their commercial license designation. What is new is that starting in May of 2014 new federal regulations require these license holders to obtain a physical examination from a physician certified in providing these services. Currently, any medical provider, doctor or chiropractor can perform a DOT physical exam. The new regulations are designed to prevent medical-related bus and truck accidents by requiring more thorough medical examinations.
A number of high profile truck and bus accidents in and around New York have brought the issues of safety and commercial vehicle drivers to the forefront. Investigations likely found a haphazard system that needed to be standardized to ensure consistent results. Prior to this new legislation, a commercial truck driver could go to any doctor to get a medical card, now with more stringent regulations in place it will not be as easy to obtain that card. In the past, if a driver was denied by one physician he or she could “shop around” until they find a willing doctor.
According to an occupation health doctor, many doctors are simply unaware of the DOT’s medical requirements and issue medical cards because they do not understand these requirements. By changing the federal regulation to only certified doctors being allowed to issue DOT medical cards and the training that is involved there will be a much more consistent process for issuing medical cards. For some companies the changes will not make much of a difference in their day to day operations, for others they could have a big impact.
In order to become a certified physician, the doctor must complete a required daylong training course and pass a written test. The training will include what medical issues to look for, including chronic stress, eye strain, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity among others. Driver fatigue is a serious problem with many truck drivers as they are often paid for how many miles they travel, pushing them to drive for extended hours and in hazardous conditions at times.
Truck and bus accidents are a big problem on our nation’s roadways and often result in personal injury and wrongful death claims as driver negligence is often cited as a cause in the crash. There are instances of a medical emergency causing a crash and hopefully these will be minimized as the new regulations take effect.
Source: The Republican Eagle, “New regulations will require bus, truck drivers to get certified exams,” Sarah Gorvin, Nov. 16, 2012
Our Manhattan law firm helps families and individuals harmed by driver negligence, including bus and truck accidents, drunk drivers and distracted driving, which is often caused by driver fatigue and distractions caused by the use of on-board computers in many commercial vehicles.