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New FMCSA medical reporting requirements could help in the fight against unfit truckers

Written by Steve Gursten Posted January 30th, 2014

All CDL holders must now provide updated medical certifications to their state licensing agencies to maintain their licenses

truck driver with sleep apnea

As of January 30, 2014, all commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders must provide new information to their state driver licensing agency (SDLA).

These requirements are pursuant to medical certification requirements created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) dating back to January 2012, but January 30, 2014 was the last day that truck drivers across the country have to comply. Now, truckers must provide information to their SDLA regarding the type of semi-truck or other commercial motor vehicle (ie. Motor coaches), and the type operation they drive in, or expect to drive in, with their CDL.

Truckers operating in certain types of commercial operations will be required to submit a current medical examination certificate. Only after submitting a current medical certification, truck drivers will receive a “certified” medical status as part of their commercial driving record.

The consequences for non-compliance are harsh. If a CDL holder is required to have a ”certified” medical status, yet fails to provide and update their medical examiner’s certificate with the SDLA, they will become ”not-certified.”

What does that mean? Well, for one, and most importantly, they may lose their CDL.

The requirements vary from state to state. Every trucker or commercial driver out there should be familiar with their state’s requirements and make sure they are fully compliant. Specific state by state information related to how a State is handling the Medical Certification requirements and contact information can be found here.

Additionally, SDLAs must now make the certificates available online for enforcement groups to view in real time.

This is a very positive step forward. Truck driving and other commercial driving professions are extremely difficult and very challenging. The job is physically and mentally demanding. And as a commercial vehicle safety advocate and a lawyer who litigates these cases around the country,  I applaud all the responsible truckers and trucking companies who do play by the rules (this is the majority of drivers).

Unfortunately, there are many truck drivers who are not medically fit to drive a semi-truck. Despite this, they drive anyway.  And they put everyone on the road at terrible risk when they do so. Truckers with medical conditions, such as seizures and sleep apnea, pose an unreasonable safety risk because they are far more susceptible to falling asleep when driving, to give just one example from the cases I’ve litigated.  Hopefully, this new certification requirement — which is no longer discretionary — will help make the commercial motor vehicle industry more safe and alleviate this industry-wide problem.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.