The Department of Transportation requires that a physical examination be conducted by a qualified and licensed medical examiner to ascertain that drivers are physically qualified in order to operate a commercial vehicle within interstate commerce. The exam will qualify the driver according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety requirements and issues to the medical examiner certificate. Drivers can only operate commercial vehicles if they have been certified physically qualified to do so. They must, at all times while on duty, keep a copy of their current medical exam certificate with them.
Qualified drivers are certified for up to two years at a time. It is wise to start the recertification process at least one month before the current certificate expires, should there be any new medical conditions or requirements they must ensure that the current certificate does not lapse or that if it does lapse that they don’t operate a commercial vehicle if it does lapse. Many medical conditions preclude two year certificates as they can drastically impair the safe operation of such commercial vehicles. These conditions will include epilepsy, limb impairment, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory dysfunction, cardiovascular conditions, obstructive sleep apnea, mental disorders, drug or alcohol abuse, visual or hearing impairments or more.
The above conditions are completely disqualifying or may require the certificate to be a shorter duration with frequent monitoring of the condition. It is important to note that the FMCSR is not worried about the physical ability of the driver but rather the medical ability. This determination is to ensure that passengers and cargo is safely carried to and from specific locations.
FMCSR will allow drivers to request waivers or exemptions if one or more of these regulations would prevent the driver from safely operating commercial vehicles or if the condition would make it unreasonable for them to do so should there be a non-emergency event. Completed applications are required to be reviewed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and their Administrator will either grant or deny the waiver within 180 days of having received the application. Health Partners Occupational Medicine Department is very familiar with the waiver application process and willing to assist if it important for one of your drivers.