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Must truck drivers be medically fit to operate a semi-truck?

To ensure the safety of not only a truck driver but also that of other drivers on the road who will at some point share the road with commercial trucks involved in interstate commerce, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that commercial motor vehicle drivers be healthy and declared medically fit to operate a commercial motor vehicle like a semi-truck or a bus.

Operating a commercial motor vehicle is very different from driving a car. The job is demanding and requires drivers to make rational decisions quickly, respond to changing traffic conditions and be able to maneuver a five-ton vehicle safely. Thus, commercial truck drivers are held to a much higher mental, physical and psychological standard. The medical criteria are set and defined by FMCSA.

The medical exam must be conducted by a recognized medical examiner who in essence is a licensed healthcare provider such as a physician's assistant, doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic medicine or an advanced practice nurse. Under FMCSA regulations, a medical examiner evaluates a CMV driver's general appearance looking for things such as weight gain, posture, and tremors. Additionally, eyesight and hearing are also checked. Other medical conditions that are checked include examining the cardiovascular system, checking and looking for changes in blood pressure, and other conditions which might affect the ability of a CMV driver to safely operate a semi such as diabetes. In most cases blood and urine will be collected.

The physical exam results are generally valid for two years. But, in some cases, a medical examiner may issue the certificate of fitness for less than two years if the driver has a condition or conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, which may require more frequent monitoring. Additionally, since some medications may interact with each other and result in drowsiness, it is important to have an accurate record of what the CMV driver is taking, how much, when and what the side effects may be.

Safety on the roads for both the CMV driver and other motorists is of the utmost importance. When an accident between a car and CMV occurs, it is important to look in the CMV driver's records to ensure that all the current regulations pertaining to safely operating the CMV were followed, and were current. It is important not to leave any stone unturned.

Source: Arizona Department of Transportation, "FAQ: Commercial Driver License, Medical Certification," Accessed Sept. 14, 2015

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Law Office of Keith A. Hammond, P.C.

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