Driving a large commercial truck is not an easy job that just anyone can do. Most trucks are large, unwieldy and not nearly as agile as cars. The ability to drive one of these huge vehicles on the highway takes a high level of skill and a requires a special commercial driver’s license, or CDL. To qualify for and receive a CDL, drivers must complete special training and demonstrate their skill. But there is a lot more to a CDL than that.
FMCSA Medical Certification Regulations
Every commercial truck driver in the country is subject to rules and regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency that sets the rules with regard to truck design and maintenance, insurance and liability requirements and most of all the rights and the qualifications that all drivers must meet. Among the most important requirements that all drivers must meet before getting behind the wheel and taking to the road is a medical certification, in which a doctor examines the driver and says they are healthy enough to be on the road.
According to FMCSA regulations, for truck drivers to be medically qualified to drive a truck, as well as to conduct pre- and post-trip safety inspections and secure their load, they must be judged physically fit. The medical certification test is actually quite rigorous and includes a full physical. Drivers must have vision of at least 20/40 (with correction, if necessary) and they must have very good hearing. They cannot be diabetics who require regular insulin use, they cannot be overweight beyond a certain level, and they cannot be at higher than normal risk for heart attack, stroke, seizure or another very serious health event. While drivers are normally medically certified as part of the CDL process, if they are diagnosed with hypertension, they can only be certified for three months at a time and must actively work with a doctor to bring their blood pressure down.
In some cases, drivers who have a physical disability may be able to drive without a medical certification, if they can pass a Skill Performance Test, which is a special test that gives a driver with a physical disability, like a missing limb, the opportunity to demonstrate they can operate the vehicle safely despite their disability.
Additional Requirements For Truck Drivers
In addition to the medical certification, drivers must also submit and pass a drug and alcohol screen, to demonstrate that they’re not using any illegal substances. Sometimes, even prescription drugs are prohibited because of the negative side effects.
Although the purpose of these strict medical requirements is to make the roads safer, a large number of drivers are attempting to get around the regulations and are driving when perhaps they shouldn’t. According to one 2010 study, as many as 600,000 drivers are continuing to drive despite having a medical condition that could make them dangerous and put others on the road at risk.
It used to be that the licensing and medical certification and the licensing for commercial truck drivers were separate processes, but in January 2014, they were combined and now a driver can’t get a CDL without a medical certification. However, despite the best efforts of regulators to keep the roads safe, some drivers and trucking companies will try to get around the requirements and doctor shop, in the name of profits over public safety and accidents will happen.
If you have been injured in an accident and you believe the truck driver was at fault, you need an experienced Truck Accident Attorney like Richard J. Plezia on your side to help you with the trucking company and insurance adjusters to get you the compensation you’re entitled to. Contact us today, so that we can investigate and help protect your rights. One issue we will examine is whether or not the driver was medically qualified to be on the road.