Under the microscope

| December 20, 2008

Linda Longton
Editor

Are you a healthy trucker who’s not at risk for heart disease or other weight-related issues with a clean driving record and no out-of-service violations? If so, read no further.

But if the trucking lifestyle has taken its toll and there’s an accident or log book problem in your past, pending initiatives could have a big impact on your career.

On the issue of driver health, the White House Office of Management and Budget had just approved two Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules as we went to press. The Medical CDL rule will require drivers to provide a current original or copy of their medical examiner’s certificate to their state licensing agency. The second rule, called the National Registry, proposes standards for the training, testing and certification of medical examiners responsible for certifying interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers. This rule would also create a database of certified physicians drivers would have to use to get their DOT physicals.

Together, these two rules are designed to prevent drivers from circumventing the physical examination requirement and ensure that doctors performing CDL physicals aren’t just rubber-stamping drivers regardless of their physical condition.

You say you’re the picture of health? Not so fast. Two other initiatives will make it easier for carriers to perform in-depth pre-employment screening and easier for inspectors and law enforcement to target unsafe truckers. So if you’re fit but your driving record isn’t so rosy, there still could be trouble ahead.

Last month, the FMCSA requested proposals from companies to disseminate commercial drivers’ safety performance data to carriers for use in hiring. The data would be based on a “driver profile” created from crash and inspection data. The information would be released only with your written consent. But it’s safe to say that if you don’t sign the form, you won’t get the job.

The FMCSA also announced that it has changed its policy limiting use of carriers’ global positioning systems and satellite communications technologies for compliance purposes. Although the effect is not yet clear, that could make it easier to unearth log book violations and other safety-related issues during compliance reviews.

If you have medical concerns that could prevent you from keeping your CDL, now is the time to take control of your health. And if your driving record is less than stellar, commit to driving as safely as possible so it doesn’t get any worse. The good news is, time could be on your side. The wheels of government turn slowly and it will likely take a while for most of these initiatives to get up and running. Use the time wisely to safeguard your career.

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