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Truckers with unsafe medical conditions may still be on the road

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently ordered a commercial truck driver to stop driving and said the driver posed an "imminent hazard" on the road. The FMCSA does not usually declare specific drivers as dangerous but in this case, the driver's negligent actions caused a fatal accident and the FMCSA wanted to try and prevent future truck accidents from happening again.

The commercial truck driver was deemed unsafe by the FMCSA after he said he lost consciousness while driving, causing his commercial truck to crash and kill a state trooper in Illinois. An investigation later found that the driver did not disclose during his medical examination that he had a disqualifying medical condition and that he was taking medication to treat the condition, making him a danger on the road.

Commercial drivers are required to undergo medical examinations before they can obtain their CDL, which is required to drive commercial trucks. If the medical exam shows that a driver has a medical condition that could make them unsafe on the road, they are not supposed to receive a medical certificate allowing them to receive their CDL.

A report by the Government Accountability Office said that many commercial drivers had potentially unsafe medical conditions that would disqualify them to drive commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, many commercial truck drivers with disqualifying medical conditions have still been obtaining their medical certificates and continue to drive on U.S. roads putting the public at risk. The GAO said that more than 200 commercial drivers were still driving in 2011 even though they had epilepsy, which is a disqualifying medical condition.

To address the problem of unsafe truck drivers still getting their medical certification to drive, the Department of Transportation issued new rules that require physicians who perform commercial drivers' medical exams to be trained, tested and certificated according to a national standard to make sure those with disqualifying medical conditions are not driving. The DOT is also requiring commercial drivers to give state driver licensing agencies a copy of their medical certification before they can obtain their CDL.

The DOT is hoping that these changes will help address the safety concerns in the commercial trucking industry and prevent future accidents involving unsafe truck drivers and the public.

Source: Truckinginfo, "Is a CDL worth someone's life?" Feb. 26, 2013

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