Commercial drivers must be physically up to the job. Operating a heavy truck or an interstate bus is demanding work. If a driver has medical issues that affect driving performance, it immediately puts people at risk on the road.
Truck accident lawyers and other safety advocates therefore welcome a new federal rule that requires training, testing and certification of the medical personnel who examine the drivers of interstate trucks and buses. The examinations are part of the licensing process for the drivers.
The goal of the training and certification is to make sure that medical professionals have a good understanding of the challenges involved in driving a commercial vehicle. If a driver cannot meet those challenges, he or she should not be licensed because of an excessive risk of causing motor vehicle accidents.
Ray LaHood, the U.S. transportation secretary, said the new rule “will ensure that healthcare professionals conducting exams keep in mind all of the demands required to operate large trucks and passenger buses safely.”
Federal safety regulators will also create an online database to track compliance with certification standards for the medical professionals who test drivers. Within two years, all certified medical examiners must be included in the database.
Commercial drivers will be required to obtain a medical examination from one of these certified examiners.
Some healthcare professionals who seek to become certified are expected to begin registering for the database as early as this summer.
The database will be maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. As FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said, it should “raise the bar for safety and save lives through increased commercial driver and vehicle safety.”