NOTE: This article is part of a series investigating the definition of “impaired driving” as it occurs in society, traffic safety and driver safety professional networks.
Here is a link to the full GAO Report – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/650388.pdf
Bottom-line is that drivers with “serious medical conditions” can still meet FMCSA fitness requirements because “…medical determinations rely on subjective factors and patient self-reporting, [therefore] it is not possible to systematically determine whether these drivers had disqualifying medical conditions.”
This will require changes to how medical qualifications are completed and recorded. The GAO report summarizes several key changes that are on the way or will be here very soon:
- “As of January 30, 2012, individuals renewing or applying for a CDL must submit a copy of their current medical certificate to their state licensing agency, making state licensing agencies responsible for ensuring that drivers have current medical certificates on file.
- “In April 2012, FMCSA published a final rule establishing a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
- “The 2012 final rule provides requirements for all healthcare professionals responsible for issuing medical certificates for interstate truck and bus drivers to complete a training course on the Federal physical qualifications rules and to pass an examination to assess the examiners ability to apply the rules, and advisory criteria in a consistent manner when making the determination whether a driver meets the qualification standards.
- “FMCSA has announced its plans to initiate a new rulemaking that would enable the agency to require medical examiners on the National Registry to submit to the agency the medical certificate information on each individual who applies for a medical certificate. The agency would then have the ability to transmit to the state driver licensing agency the medical certificate. This process will significantly decrease the likelihood of drivers being able to falsify medical certificates.
- “Specifically, the law [MAP-21] requires DOT to establish, operate, and maintain a national clearinghouse with records relating to the results of positive drug and alcohol tests of commercial drivers or instances of refused tests. Once the clearinghouse has been established, employers must request and review their CDL drivers’ records from the clearinghouse annually. The MAP-21 Act also requires DOT to develop a method to electronically notify an employer of each additional positive test result or other noncompliance.
- “Specifically, the law requires DOT to establish, operate, and maintain a national clearinghouse with records relating to the results of positive drug and alcohol tests of commercial drivers or instances of refused tests. Once the clearinghouse has been established, employers must request and review their CDL drivers’ records from the clearinghouse annually. The MAP-21 Act also requires DOT to develop a method to electronically notify an employer of each additional positive test result or other noncompliance.
Drivers have a responsibility to be safe while behind the wheel. Employers (motor carriers) have a responsibility to properly qualify and monitor the ongoing qualification status of those who drive for them.
Driver impairment, whether from drugs, alcohol, fatigue or medical conditions is foreseeable (through testing and qualification programs) and preventable so long as everyone does their part.
To find out in hindsight that heavy vehicle crashes occurred where drivers were also receiving Social Security Administration disability benefits (and were not medically qualified to drive) is tragic if it were a mistake and a travesty if it occurred knowingly but was ignored.
SafetyFirst specializes in driver safety programs for both regulated and non-regulated fleets. We have clients throughout the USA and Canada utilizing a wide range of proprietary database systems (for compliance with company or Federal policies affecting drivers, crash reporting, training documentation, qualification reminders, etc.), hotline coaching programs, and varied training/educational approaches. We also consult with larger fleets and insurance carriers on developing strategies to assure effective implementation of telematics programs and other high capital projects where safety results depend on data analysis and translation to behavior safety outputs to realize and capture measurable gains.