On Friday, May 10th, the FMCSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would change the form that medical examiners use when performing DOT physical exams and require the medical examiners to report the results of the completed physicals to the FMCSA by the end of that day.
The new rule would also require that the FMCSA transmit all medical information electronically to state driver’s license agencies immediately upon receipt from the medical examiner. In one way, this is beneficial since it would mean that drivers would no longer have to give their medical certificates or documents to the state licensing agencies. Fleets would also no longer have to verify the National Registry Number of the FMCSA approved medical examiner.
The downside is that since the medical information is transmitted almost instantaneously, if a driver is failed for whatever reason they will be immediately placed out of service regardless of where they are in the country, what they’re hauling, or where they’re going. This could potentially leave drivers stranded without a way to transport their goods until another driver can either take over their rig or unload and reload their freight. If the load being hauled is time sensitive, the carrier could be held responsible for the total cost of the freight lost. This could be a huge expense for any fleet, but nearly insurmountable for small fleets or owner operators.
This new rule comes on the heels of the older rule created by the FMCSA last year that established a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and mandated that all commercial truck drivers must get their medical certification from an FMCSA approved examiner.
According to the FMCSA, the new rule will go into effect three years after it gets finalized.
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