As of January 30, 2012, a new federal mandate requires all commercial driver’s license holders to provide information to their state driver licensing agency regarding the type of commercial vehicle operations they work for or expect to work for. The new federal requirement is intended to make U.S. highways and roads safer by restricting certain drivers who may be considered medically unsafe.
Drivers who operate in certain types of commerce will be required by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to submit a current medical examiner’s certificate to their SDLA, which in turn will get them a “certified” medical status on their driving record.
The new law comes amid heightened awareness of some of the serious health problems affecting commercial truck drivers and their ability to safely haul tons of cargo. Recent studies show that hypertension remains the leading health problem among commercial drivers, putting them at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other adverse events that could cause them to lose control of their vehicles.
Sleep apnea is also a main concern because the condition, which interrupts sleep patterns and causes drowsiness and fatigue, has been increasing steadily among commercial drivers during the last three years.
According to the FMCSA, CDL holders required to have a “certified” medical status who fail to provide and keep their medical examiner’s certificate current with their SDLA will be designated as “non-certified” and risk losing their CDL.
It’s important to note that physical qualification requirements for commercial drivers are not changing under the new rule; rather, the Medical Examiner’s Certificate is being linked to the CDL to ensure that only medically qualified drivers are operating commercial vehicles, and the burden of proof falls on the drivers, who must provide the required information to their SDLA.
State-by-state instructions for submitting medical certificates to state driver licensing agencies is available at www.aamva.org