Medical Rule Changes Scheduled For May 2014


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has said that they are well on track toward training, testing, certifying, and listing medical examiners who will be able to give DOT-required physicals to drivers. The FMCSA announced last year that it would be looking to create a national registry of medical examiners who would be more qualified and better trained to give DOT physicals, thereby cutting down on the number of medically unfit drivers.

According to the FMCSA, they will need at least 40,000 medical examiners nationwide in order to be able to test the approximately 4 million drivers that will have to get government-approved physicals.

The agency claims that the registry is “pretty well on its way,” but of the 40,000 examiners that they need by May of 2014, they only have 1,573 who have taken and passed the medical examiner exam. There is currently only one testing organization that is able to certify examiners, but there are two more that should be set up by September, which should increase the rate at which examiners get certified.

Once the new medical card rules go into effect, drivers will have to get their medical exam from the FMCSA-approved examiners, but if your card expires after the changes are made, you don’t have to get a new one until your current card expires.


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48 comments. Add a comment.

  1. jimmy says

    So does this mean if I don’t inject insulin and am in decent shape I will be banned from driving a CMV? Good job big brother. What would we do without this agency and all of its cush salaries and benefits?

    • terry says

      No jimmy it means if you have a 17″ neck you will have to go and get a sleep apnea test at your expence. if you fail the test you will be required to sleep with one of those sleep apnea machines, also if you BMI is to hight you will be requied to lose enough weight to pass. i’m 5’8″ tall and my weight is about 225 Lbs. but BMI says im grossly over weight. i will have to loss about 80 lbs. but my doc. says i only need to drop 20 due to my muscle mass. its getting stupid out here, all i want is four more years to retire.

  2. smkedbacon says

    “Once the new medical card rules go into effect, drivers will have to get their medical exam from the FMCSA-approved examiners,” Lordy sakes I thought my family doctor was at least qualified to give a physical. What in the H is wrong with this government?

    • YeOldeDave says

      If I was an MD I’d be really offended that the feds don’t think I was capable of doing a hear thunder, see lightening DOT physical. Of course the new prices will help us have a bigger tax deduction………….. just to keep taxes low.

    • michael says

      I think they are trying to stop the ones that take money to pass drivers in bad shape a friend of mine has bad hearing he payed dr more to pass him

      • Dave says

        Wonder how much a clinic doc making 80- 100k a year or more would ask for a bribe? Wonder what a trucker who’s making almost as much would pay?

  3. Chibob says

    By the time they get done making it harder to qualify for a cdl they are going to have to pay us a lot more money.

  4. George Kelly says

    I don’t believe that they will have enough Doctors by 2014. Think about it. For one thing Doctors don’t have the time to mess with talking an exame. They won’t look hardly verry much money. The acute care clinics might but I don’t think that they would have 40,000 buy 2014

    • says

      Well, Dave, you’re right. It’s all about money, as is every law they have passed since the Kennedy administration. I’m 77, I lost the front half of my left foot at age 16. I retired at age 65, but I drove 18wheelers hauling everything from explosives to triples for 34 years without a single accident. Under the current medical standards, I would be listed as an unsafe driver. Good thing I quit when I did.

  5. Chris says

    We now have to meet almost the same requirements as pilots. I’m one myself. Except pilots don’t have to worry about CPAP. But, physicals here are bogus just as in flying. The only time they prove anything is for the hour you’re in the Dr.’s office. Every time we step into a truck, we self-certify that we are fit to drive for 2 years (1 in my case because of BS rules). So these medical regs do nothing for safety. As has been said, it’s about money. The only result will be less truckers, higher transport costs and more economic downturn. And everyone wonders why so many companies outsource overseas.

  6. Rob says

    One test I would like to see included is English skills, or the lack thereof. On both sides of the border, waves of immigrants have come in, and rarely can they speak, understand, read or write proper English or even legible pigeon English. This test alone would cull 15% (60% up here in Canada) of the bottom feeders from the industry, and prevent the rates from sinking even lower.

    • Chris says

      English fluency is already regulated by the FMCSRa and it goes against the BASIC score if a driver cant speak/read and write english and they recieve a violation on inspection.

      • Rob says

        I have met many drivers who don’t a have a clue as to what I’m saying, and I can’t understand a word of they’re saying either. I seriously doubt they can read English at all, and even our so-called international symbols on the road signs seem to be a mystery to them too. That goes for more than 75% of the local trucking employers in my area of western Canada.

    • Deborah L says

      My husband has run across drivers in truckstops who have no clue what the sales clerk is even talking about when it even comes to paying for fuel. I have no clue how they make it from point a to b. We have seen one who was an Indian from across the ocean who did not know what a receiver was telling him about waiting for the call to go to the dock, I kinda wondered if he ever got unloaded even and this was in 2008, how in the blue blazes did they pass a test if they can’t understand English.

      • Rob says

        They melded the state run insurance company with the motor vehicle branch a long time ago. It’s now just known as ICBC here in BC. A hated entity. A new driver is offered a computerized learners license test in a multitude of different languages, and the questions are multiple choice. A drooling idiot could pass that test. The immigrants operate most of the driving schools, essentially license mills, set up to pass the ICBC road test, but nothing else. The ICBC road testers do not have to possess a class 1 license themselves. But the mantra is understanding and dignity, therefore more attention is paid to not offending than failing the driver for bad driving ability. Worse, there has been a scam where the schools bring in drivers from overseas, and fake the so-called experience in the old country. A lot of money changes hands throughout the entire system. There is also a new government program where a company can run ads all over the place, then go to the government and complain they can’t find any qualified drivers, in which case they can import people fresh off the boat under what’s called the Labor Market Option. Which allows anybody with a work permit to operate many tons of machinery with almost zero skills and experience. Bonus is that they can bring in the rest of their family in 6 months. So a lot of trucks you see on the road from Canada have drivers than don’t speak english (and they really try to avoid getting pulled over), with no skills and experience. The so-called driver shortage is a crock, the only shortage is experienced drivers willing to work for dirt wages and crappy equipment. I know many drivers with 20 years and more experience that can’t get hired locally.

  7. Allen says

    Just like the TWIC cards, emission standards, and everything else they do so poorly and stupidly. What I see happening is only a small number will be able to give exams so the law of supply and demand will kick in. Instead of $50-$75 for a medical exam it will be at least $750 dollars and a six month waiting list.

    Good luck getting your company to set it up so you make your appointment, they can’t even get you back for home time or medical emergencies.

    As usual, blame the drivers, shit on the drivers, and put the burden on the drivers.

  8. Deborah L says

    And don’t forget a copy has to be mailed or faxed to the DMV, CDL unit also when you get your med card. I’m still not sure if it was the short form only or the long one. Husband was out of town so they got the long one when I sent it off. I would say it is perhaps a good idea too to get a signed receipt of delivery when using mail; not sure if the fax receipt is enough if you use the fax option.

  9. duane says

    WTF? why are we under the microscope. Oh that’s right cause we just sit around for 11 hours a day, doing nothing but holding a steering wheel. A lot of us are outside of the truck, doing the deliveries, hand unloading 38,000 to 42,000# every day.
    Why don’t the people who sit in cubicles have to have special tests? or the fat bastards, sitting around the big tables creating these B.S. laws? How many of those guys are obese?
    How many truck drivers do you know who actually have sleep apnea? None. It is made up and pushed by the people who make the mask. These people are so messed up. where did this sleep disorder start anyway, never heard about years ago. Now everyone has it? How?
    Enough is enough.

  10. Mike says

    But yet the unfit, unhealthy pill popping alcoholic driver in his car that causes a massive pile up on the highway didn’t have get a physical to drive…

  11. jason says

    im not one of them….but how a bout cracking down on these damn truck stops that serve nothing but fast food or nasty buffets with nothing but junk….nost make the trucker suffer. why shld a guy thats in decent shap and has a 17 inch or larger neck have to suffer because he cares about his health and works out. just sayin.

  12. Brian says

    I think as drivers, we should stand together and not take this abuse anymore from the government or the FMCA. Park them and not move them. I’ve been doing this since 1978 and I can’t wait to turn 55 to get out of this B. S. business that people actually looked up too. The FMCA is nothing but a bunch of people that never been in a truck on their life. I for one am tired of them telling me how to do my job. Go tell a surgeon that he has to have 10 hours off, a half hour break in the first 8 hrs of work and get 2 nights sleep between hrs. Of 1@ 5. Or u come not reset u hrs again. Enough is enough.

  13. says

    I have to laugh, yeah sure there are a lot of one eyed drivers, blood pressure going through the roof etc being passed by the “family doctor” or the good ole boy system. I would bet dollars to donuts that not one of these “family doctors” could produce a copy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations—and you think they automatically know the proper parameters for a DOT Physical??

    Just think, when that one eyed driver took out a bus load of kids, and one of them was yours, and you wonder why he was allowed to drive a commercial vehicle weighing 80, 000 pounds…..

    As far as English speaking goes, that was not the subject matter.

    • jeff says

      ok……..1 eyed drivers or high blood pressure people need to eat too..

      9times out of 10 they are NOT the reason for the truck catastrophes………

      but, hey,if you want to pay me 50k per year while I sit on the couch because my eyes are badf..So be it. At least im out here giving a damn in society

  14. says

    I am one of the certified medical examiners that is the new standard that the DOT is demanding. All I can say is that I do have “a dog in this fight.”

    It is true that they will not have the 40,000 medical examiners by May 2014. Right now there are about 1,200 examiners certified by DOT.

    One of the reasons that the DOT is making these changes is that many drivers would find out from each other which doctor did only a cursory exam and certified everyone for 2 years no matter their health status. This doctor was never responsible if the driver caused an accident due to his bad health status. Neither was the driver, for that matter.

    Now, the doctor is responsible for following up with the patient and confirming with that driver’s primary care physician or specialist about all issues brought to the doctor’s attention during the exam. The driver is responsible for telling the truth during the exam.

    If the drivers lies and has a health problem that he does not bring to the attention of the examining doctor, he can be held responsible in and accident. I don’t know what that would look like, but that is what I have been told.

    If the examining doctor learns of a health problem and does not get the supporting documentation before making a decision of the length of certification, he can be yanked from the program. As we all know, getting into something is easier than getting reinstated.

    Let’s “do the math” here – if the driver can be held responsible and the doctor can be held responsible then the companies are not.. being held responsible. This leaves only the trucks and equipment as their responsibility. This will mean lower insurance rates for them down the road. Ah… follow the money!!

    For the record, my office is in Newark, NJ. I charge $75 for the exam, $20 for the required urinalysis. My rates will go up for the exam in January 2014 by $25.00 for the exam. That is where it will stay (yes, supply and demand – I am in business after all and I make no apologies). I offer volume discounts for 5 or more exams if paid for in advance – the 5 drivers could come in all at once but, realistically, if the exam is paid for in advance a driver can come in whenever the exam is due.

    The CME (certified medical examiner) exam is very difficult and the failure rate is high. Many of my colleagues failed it on their first attempt. I did not and am Certified Medical Examiner #9221125725.

    I suggested that my forms be in other languages than English but the FMCSA told me that if a driver can’t speak or understand English they shouldn’t be certified anyway. So far, this has not been a problem in my office.

    If any of the readers of this column want a good, clean, fair exam then come to my office in Newark, NJ. Call my office at 973-344-5656 or get information from my website – Dr. Lane

    • Anita C says

      Dr. Lane – interesting POV from a medical professional. My POV is that of a couple who regularly get annual physicals through our family doctor that go far beyond what the DOT physical requires. What is involved for a doctor to test and become certified? Would it be worth it for us to ask our doctor to consider it, or is it an expensive and time consuming process that many would feel was of no benefit to them? It seems horrendously foolish to have to take yet more time off work and have some tests repeated that have been done by our physician.

      • Alex says

        I, too, am a physician who performs CDL exams. I’ve read Hartenbaum’s book, keep it for reference. And I know the regulations. I’m retired from an occupational health clinic, owned by a community hospital. I still work there on occasion to cover vacations.

        As of right now, I don’t plan to take the course or certify. Which means as of May, 2014, I’m unemployable in medicine. I’m incensed that I have to take a test to do something I’ve been doing for seventeen years. The new standards leave me no leeway or grounds for my own judgment, when someone runs foul of the regulations.

        Where were your lawyers when the process was going on?

        But Dr. Lane is correct. Family doctors don’t know s**T from shinola regarding DOT exams. I’ve seen the most egregious errors made on certifications; then I get fried by the examinee because I don’t do the same half-***ed job. It is, in fact, time to get the family slicks out of the business of filling out forms they know nothing about, on an “Oh, by the way…” as the patient leaves the office.

        You’re right about excessive government regulation. And government’s correct about the slack-*** process that currently exists. Where’s the middle?

        By the way, the clinic system I worked for, and occasionally work for, charges $65 or $70 for a DOT exam. The urgent care up the way charges about $125.

        Also, since none of you are at any risk, and would never ever cause an accident, before you go for this onerous exam: (1) Get your blood pressure under control. Don’t come into the clinic sleep-deprived or caffeinated. (2) Get your eyes tuned-up. (3) The proper answer to “Do you habitually consume alcohol or used illegal drugs?” is No. Drinking a couple of beers off duty and thinking that you should say “Yes” will only cause you problems. As to the sleep apnea, if you meed the criteria (BMI>35) or sleep symptoms (look ’em up), then see your doctor, shove the rules in front of his face, and tell him you need to be evaluated for sleep apnea. Then take the documentation with you to your exam. Take into consideration your health insurance deductables, and plan accordingly. That high-deductable calamity-coverage you’re considering – get ready to pay out big. But you’ll be required to purchase health insurance soon, so read the policies offered, and if you’re fat (sorry, folks), make sure it’ll cover that sleep study (i.e., isn’t excluded from coverage) and consider the deductable, and when you’re likely to be paying it.

        Good luck. in nine months, I’m outta here.

  15. says

    As it stands now, yes, your family doctor, urgent care (US Healthworks/Concentra/workers’ comp) offices, Kaiser, etc. can do your exam. As has been already expressed in earlier comments, many family doctors are unfamiliar with the DOT regs and they simply copy exam results from their records onto a DL51 and sign it.

    An analogy I like to give to CDL patients about the new FMCSA changes in my Bay Area CA office is this, the FMCSA certified examiners will be similar to a Smog Only operation. For your “annual” full physicals go to your PCP. This is the same as changing your oil & rotating tires within manufacturer recommended periods as well as doing the 30K, 60K and 90K major maintenance. Maintain your vehicle and every 2-years when it needs a smog, there is no reason you should not pass. When you skip out on annual maintenance and push the limits of your vehicle (human body), things breakdown prematurely. If your car fails inspection due to poor maintenance, do you get mad at the smog technician because of this? This makes sure the car is safe not only for you to operate, but safe for the other drivers on the road.

    As for pricing, my office is currently at $60. If I need to hire additional staff, I will need to offset the increased costs. $75 is likely the next bump for new drivers, but drivers established in our database will likely stay at $60 as we will not have to add them to our system. There will be some offices which will likely try to gouge drivers on their CDL exams. Word will spread about these offices and the market will affect them accordingly.

  16. Miguel Perez says

    Welcome to the future poor once again, where the goverment is the the bandit stealing is just for kicks goverment billions dollars and trucks nothing. unless truck stops running then this will put pressure to hear the Trucks and Bus Driver !!!!!!!! MP

  17. Laura says

    I live in Michigan, the clinic my work sent me to Jan 11th is already going by the new guidelines. yes I have a BMI of 36, cut off is 35. would not give me a med card until I go get a sleep apnea test. work will not pay for this, says is a health thing, my insurance will not pay for this because is a work related thing. So I go see my family Dr for a referal, he says you don’t have sleep apnea, but will not sign the form, says is a federal dot thing, must get the test, I go see the expensive sleep specialist, he says, no I don’t feel you have sleep apnea, but will not sign form either with out doing the test because is a “federal thing”. So mow I get to pay $1000 to get the test! Even thou 2 Dr’s say “no I don’t feel you have sleep apnea. So did the person who invented the “sleep apnea machine” have anything to do with these new rules/I bet the answer is yes! going to be a very very rich person! I am a local day driver 700 am to 330pm M-F. less than 100 miles a day. So really, if they are wanting this from me, I really feel bad for all real OTR driver’s whose med card expires in the next few years! Money Money Money, is what this is all about.

  18. billy says

    Getting rid of us fat drivers won’t solve anything. You have to get ready fast food joints in truck stops. That’s the cause a problem we have today.

  19. Bill Swindle says

    So when 26 million drivers fail their physicals because of their size, the federal gov can step in and save the day again? Crap! We have eight drivers at the concrete plant where I work,all good hard workers,and only one is small enough to pass the new requirements.

  20. glen house says

    so what should all of us hard working drivers do about this? I can t afford to loose my job and im getting a little to old to start a new carrier. I do not like unions but maybe we need a strike? wouldn’t take long to shut things down and make them think about it. just sayin.
    im getting a little fed up with all of it.

    • joe yuma says

      I am a new victim .23 years ago i had a brain aneurism . it was repaired with no problems.On april 2 i had a lump on my neck a ct scan showed that the shunt tube that was installed had broke.No biggie it wasn’t needed any more.So they tied the ends and said ok go back to work.The surgery was done 4/17/14 at Barrows in phoenix.It was a 20 minute procedure.AS my wife and were driving home my super had told me to see the company doc before starting work monday,ok no problem. He’s one of the new certified docs.This is yuma arizona.After seeing him|,by the way i had to go thru the whole physical.He did not pass me, because of a blood thinner i have used since my aneurism.If it worked for 23 years now, why not now?The thinner Aggrenox is not legal any more.I have been with the company since 1984, in a couple of months i would have started my 30th year,now nothing.It is 3:28 in the morning and I’m trying figure out what to do next.

      Joe Worthen,Cemex,Mixer driver,Yuma,Arizona

  21. Reggie hicks says

    You mean to tell me that my doctor that has been in practice before I was born doesn’t know enough. But dot who knows nothing medically can train my doctor to do his job right. Wow what the heck is this world coming to. What’s gonna happen to the millions of people with high blood pressure, diabetes and so forth. They got to eat. I gaurantee you over half the trucking industry falls somewhere in that category and won’t be able to drive.

  22. Jackie B says

    Well….im screwed. Went in for d.o.t physical today and thanks to these lovely new laws left WITHOUT my card. For 5 years now a written letter from my sleep apnea doctor stating that I am complying with my machine EVERY NIGHT and that sleep apnea is completely gone because of the use every night….thanks to some new laws this is not enough proof for him TO sign my card.i have 11 days before it expires and he wants at least one test ran before he will sign. For gods sake my lung doc dosent even agree I need this. And not enough time before my card expires …..can you say out of a job…….thanks congress! !!!

  23. Jack says

    didn’t I read somewhere that this applies to Interstate drivers but not Intrastate drivers. I can not find my source now.

  24. Mary says

    My husband went to a physician who is in this new registry over 3 weeks before his medical card expired to have his DOT Physical done for new medical card. Our family physician is not in the registry. He was given a form to have filled out by Our Family Physician to have completed and signed after a sleep test was done based on his neck size. It took over 3 weeks before that test could be done and another 2 weeks before results of the sleep test results were made available for our physician to view and fill out the form. With the time constraint, the Medical Card expired and once all was said and done, he had to go to the DMV to have the restriction lifted off his license. The result of the sleep test says NO SLEEP APNEA.
    When my Husband called his employer telling them he had to have a sleep test done, they told him to take the truck to the other side of the country and park it. He had to get a rental to drive all the way back home with as much of his personal belongings as he could fit into it that he had in the truck and paid $400 just for gas to get home. His Current Medical was still good and he had never even taken any vacation time off work in the 3 years he had been with that company. The company speculated that he did have sleep apnea and would have to have treatment for it.

    Drivers beware. This sleep test based on neck size left my Husband without a job and unwarranted medical bills. Because he was lease purchase, all the money he put into that truck is gone and he can’t even file for unemployment. Don’t let this happen to you

    • DLew says

      Its not just the neck size, all to often drivers are not aware of what it really takes to be healthy enough to be a Commercial Driver these days. The Standards are on the FMCSA web site as clear as they always have been. No new regulations have been added, only the way Doctors certify a driver to be medically fit no more ok read an eye chart ok here is your certificate doctors. they all have been fired by the FMCSA. Thousands of drivers and doctors are no longer driving or performing fitness exams. I wish every one would quit fighting this and do what it takes to be a Commercial Driver, No the standards for the fitness exam. Make the public safer than it has been in the pass…

  25. Diane Nelson says

    Us healthworks made my husband get a sleep study because his neck measured 18.5 inches. The findings were a 7 and anything under 10 sleep interuptions do not require a cpap machine. That’s not good enough for us healthworks. They are still insisting he get a cpap machine which means he will be unable to drive until 30 days when he turns in a readout that says how many times he wakes up, breaths he takes, how much sleep he gets. Lets put it this way. He no longer has any personal or medical privacy. This feels like a violation of his civil rights.

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