A driver with a commercial driver’s license is required by the Department of Transportation to get a medical physical at least once every two years in order to maintain that license. The requirement is meant to reduce the likelihood of a bus or truck accident being caused by a driver who is not physically fit to operate a large vehicle. In the past, any medical provider from doctors to chiropractors was acceptable in providing the DOT physical. Starting in May 2014, the regulations regarding this physical will change.
The latest federal regulations require that commercial drivers get their biannual physicals from physicians who have been trained and certified by the DOT to perform them. According to a doctor at the Mayo Clinic Health System, this new requirement will help standardize the process and ensure that basic standards are in place to make the physical useful. In the past, it is possible that doctors who did not understand the purpose of the DOT physical would simply issue the necessary medical card, rather than familiarize themselves with the applicable medical standard.
Another potential issue that could be resolved by the new regulation is that of physician shopping. A driver who is denied medical clearance by one doctor can simply go to other providers until he finds one that will give the medical clearance. With no training or certification system in place, there is little to hold a doctor responsible for clearing a driver with serious medical problems. Presumably, and provider that engaged in such conduct going forward would be denied certification.
Drivers are known to be susceptible to certain medical problems, including sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic stress and eye strain. A driver in poor health is a danger to him- or herself as well as to others on the road. Ensuring that every bus and truck driver can pass the necessary medical exam will make transportation safer for everyone.
Source: Red Wing Republican Eagle, “New regulations will require bus, truck drivers to get certified exams,” by Sarah Gorvin, 16 November 2012