Semi-Trucks and Drivers Regulated by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

12/15/2008 | Auto, Semi & Motorcycle Wrecks

Because Louisville, Kentucky contains a several major interchanges (I-64 aka spaghetti junction, I-65 aka Martin Luther King Highway. I-264 aka watterson expressway, and I-265 aka Gene Snyder Expressway), we are home to lots of semi-truck wrecks.  What most people don't know is that semi-truck drivers traveling between states (and sometimes even when they stay in the same state) are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  This federal agency writes the rules and regulations that govern commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers, tour buses, and the like.
Unfortunately, we often find that many commercial truck drivers have medical conditions that should preclude them from having a commercial driver's license (CDL).  Often times these medical conditions make it unsafe for the driver to operate a commercial vehicle.  
These medical conditions often go un-recognized by the driver's employer and the state because their isn't any consistency in the reporting requirements between the state and federal government.  
That was the case until now.  Effective January 1, 2009, the states and the federal government will have a link commercial truck and bus driver's licenses with their medical examination certificates.  Here is a portion of the release from the FMCSA website: "FMCSA today issued a final rule that will require states to merge the commercial driver’s license (CDL) and the driver’s medical examination certificate into a single electronic record. When fully implemented, the new combined CDL will streamline record keeping obligations for the states and CDL holders, while providing instant electronic access to the CDL holder’s medical certificate by state and federal enforcement officials.  In addition, the rule requires states to take enforcement actions against CDL holders if they do not provide medical certification status information within the deadline."
While this is certainly a step in the right direction, it doesn't go far enough.  Their is still no requirement that drivers be screened for chronic obstructive sleep apnea, a common condition among truckers, that causes or contributes to a number of fatigue related crashes every year.  It also does not require the state medical examiner's to obtain copies of the driver's medical records and review them.  Both of these things would certainly contribute to making our roads safer by ensuring that driver's with certain medical conditions aren't allowd to operate large commercial vehicles, in Louisville or anywhere.

hans