New Medical Examiner Standards for Commercial Drivers

Across Illinois and the rest of the nation, interstate bus and truck drivers face challenges far above and beyond those of ordinary motorists. Operating these big vehicles is taxing work, and safe driving requires being in good physical condition.

Drivers Required to Pass Physical Examinations

At least once every two years, anyone who drives commercially is required to undergo and pass a medical examination. The particulars of the examination are set by the U.S. Department of Transportation and include a variety of assessments. Included in the DOT examination are tests for respiratory system adequacy, cardiovascular disease, hearing, vision and muscular function. Being certified as fit for driving is required to help reduce accidents and make highways safer for all. Without passing the DOT examination, no one can obtain or renew a commercial driver's license.

Every year, medical professionals conduct about three million physical examinations for bus and truck drivers.

Standards Set for Medical Examiners

Recognizing the need for thorough, comprehensive medical examinations that accurately measure a person's fitness for commercial driving, the DOT recently announced a new safety rule. Beginning in May 2014, every DOT medical examination must be conducted by a medical professional who has received specific training and certification.

The new rule establishes a National Registry of certified medical examiners. The National Registry will ensure that the professionals who conduct commercial driver medical examinations are fully aware of the medical standards set in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Furthermore, the Registry will make a list of certified examiners openly and readily available. The program will promote confidence among members of the public that commercial drivers are receiving high-quality health screening to keep everyone safer on the road.

Professionals Trained for Certification

To be certified and entered on the National Registry medical professionals must first apply to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a part of the DOT. They will attend a training program with a curriculum developed especially to prepare them to conduct medical examinations focused on the needs of commercial vehicle drivers.

The standards for training will be available on the FMCSA website where not only medical professionals and drivers, but also employers and law enforcement officers can review them. Members of the public are also welcome to look over the standards and receive updates.

Truck and bus drivers who are negligent in failing to keep up on medical examinations or who otherwise fail in their duty to operate their vehicles safely can be held liable for injuries that result. With the help of a personal injury attorney, anyone injured in a commercial vehicle accident due to negligence can recover payment for medical costs and lost wages, along with compensation for pain and suffering.