Despite recent attempts by trucking trade groups to delay the effective date of the rule, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rule to require drivers to be medically certified by examiners approved by the agency became effective May 21.
Drivers’ current medical cards are still valid until the date shown on their certification, but when renewing their current certification — or for new drivers being certified for the first time — they must use an examiner in the agency’s registry.
FMCSA spokesperson Duane DuBruyne said May 17 that the registry has 21,600 examiners in the registry and is set to approve 4,000 more this week.
That total number — roughly 25,000 — is still about half of what FMCSA hopes to have and the number the agency’s rule said it would need to serve the 4.4 million drivers subject to the rule’s requirements.
But the agency did announce this week that an additional 27,000 examiners had started the process of being added to the registry.
Both the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association had formally requested a delay in the rule until more examiners were added to the agency’s rolls.
However, since their requests, the agency has been on an examiner-approving spree, clearing about 15,000 examiners in the last few weeks.
Examiners in the registry must be retrained and recertified periodically, too, FMCSA says.
The agency earlier this year announced a delay to part of the rule, pushing back the date through which drivers must continue to carry paper copies of their medical certification to Jan. 30, 2015, from Jan. 30, 2014.