The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration),which works closely with the DOT, has five main requirements that determines whether an individual is eligible for a CDL license.
The rules are: (1) the driver needs to be at least 21 years old (2) the driver needs to able to read and speak English (3) the driver needs to have a valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license (4) the driver needed to have completed the driver’s road test and (5) the driver must be physically qualified to drive which needs to be verified by receiving a medical certificate from a medical examiner claiming the driver is physical qualified to drive. See http://semi-accident.com for more information on the FMCSA regulations.
The GAO’s research found that there were many individuals who were driving without a medical certificate, the fifth requirement. Therefore, bureaucratic snafus have resulted in drivers having CDLs without meeting these clear cut requirements. As with the heparin debacle, http://heparin-law.com, it is clear that the U.S. government needs to make technological advancements so that they can assure these straightforward requirements are met before issuing or renewing commercial driver licenses.
The NTSB (The National Transportation Safety Board), which investigates transportation accidents, suggested additional requirements for CDL drivers. In 2006, 12% of commercial accidents were caused by the drivers having a heart attack, fatigue or another physical impairment. The NTSB agency concluded that by adding these eight requirements for a CDL, many more accidents could be prevented.
The NTSB’s Eight Suggestions are:
- 1. Doctors performing medical examinations for drivers are qualified to do so and are educated about occupational issues for drivers. In other words, it is essential that these examiners know what type of abilities (as opposed to disabilities) a driver must have. For example: ability to stay focused for up to 11 hours at a time, in high stress traffic situations.
- 2. Every prior application by an individual for medical certification is recorded and reviewed. That the applications and medical certifications, that were received over the previous years for a CDL license, are recorded and reviewed to further evaluate the licensing process.
- 3. Medical certification regulations are updated periodically to permit trained examiners to clearly determine whether drivers with common medical conditions should be issued a medical certificate. The recommendations call for giving medical examiners the regulations with respect to the abilities needed for commercial driving periodically so they’re certain what conditions disqualify an individual from obtaining a CDL license. For more information view: http://subtlebraininjury.blogspot.com/2008/07/gao-medically-unfit-truckers-part-ii.html
- 4. Individuals performing examinations have specific guidance and a readily identifiable source of information for questions on such examinations.
- 5. To structure the review process by the DOT, to prevent, or identify and correct, the inappropriate issuance of medical certification.
- 6. Provide mechanisms for enforcement authorities to identify invalid medical certification during safety inspections and routine stops.
- 7. Provide enforcement authorities with the power to prevent an uncertified driver from driving until an appropriate medical examination takes place.
- 8. Create mechanisms for reporting medical conditions to the medical certification and reviewing authority and to make sure that individuals, health care providers, and employers are aware of these mechanisms.
If the DOT adopts these eight recommendations from the NTSB, this could help eliminate accidents involving CDL license drivers who are not fit to drive.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
firstname.lastname@example.org :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.