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Increased medical testing aims for better truck safety

Truck drivers carry the responsibilities not only to transport cargo to wherever it needs to go, but also to drive safely in order to prevent any danger they might bring to themselves or others.

It isn't just fatigue or negligent driving that can lead to danger. Truck accidents have happened due to medical conditions of some commercial drivers. Because of this, a truck driver's commercial driver's license is going to be tied not only to his driving skill, but also to his health and potential risks it puts on his driving ability.

The Department of Transportation in each state requires that truck drivers are issued a medical examiner certificate verifying that they have passed an appropriate medical exam by an approved doctor or nurse. In most cases, these certificates are good for 24 months, but in cases where there is a special medical concern, such as heart disease, certificates need to be renewed more often.

In order to enforce these regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration randomly selects certificates to verify. The agency announced that these verifications will be conducted more often. In the past drivers kept a printed medical card in case they needed to provide verification. New regulations connect medical certificates to a driver's Class A commercial license, and if those verifications expire it means those Class A licenses also expire and revert back to a Class D license, which means eligibility to be a commercial driver is expires.

The goal of the new regulation is to enforce truck drivers' medical certification compliance with a higher level of efficiency that makes it easier for authorities to verify compliance, but also makes it easier for drivers to comply. Not only are drivers reminded several times that their certifications are expiring, but their managers are notified as well, giving them ample opportunity to get their physicals updated.

This could be a multiple-win situation. Perhaps drivers will lead healthier lifestyles due to the stricter medical requirement. That means employers could have healthier drivers who are more efficient and less likely to miss work. Most importantly, unsuspecting motorists may be safer from the safety threat that an unhealthy trucker poses on the roads.

Source: The Altoona Mirror, "Truck drivers to be subjected to more testing," Kelly Cernetich, Jan. 2, 2013

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