In the March 15, 2021, issue of The Trucker, I reminded drivers across the U.S. that a waiver on medical certifications and recertifications, issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would expire May 31. In that column, I also urged drivers to go ahead and schedule an appointment with a registered DOT physician to make sure everything was in order well in advance of the waiver’s expiration.
Just in case anyone needs a refresher on the situation: In March of 2020, because of the national shutdown caused by COVID-19, the FMCSA approved a waiver on medical certifications and re-certifications for holders of CDLs. According to the FMCSA, the COVID-19 public health emergency had caused many states offices to close and/or reduce hours of operation of their state driver licensing agencies in response to safety protocols set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The shutdown also resulted in medical clinics and DOT examiners either temporarily closing or offering limited hours of operation, making it difficult for drivers to obtain medical certifications. FMCSA’s waiver allowed drivers to continue to operate without stoppage of freight and essential goods and products.
As of June 1, the waiver has once again been extended, this time through Aug. 31, 2021, giving drivers who didn’t heed my advice back in March just a little more time — but don’t use this latest extension as an excuse to postpone that dreaded DOT certification yet again.
“Why not?” you ask.
Think of it in terms of a bottleneck. Just as drivers face traffic bottlenecks every day on the highway, you can expect bottlenecks (in other words, long lines) when making appointments to see a registered DOT physician between now and Aug. 31. I’m urging drivers to get ahead of the line and not wait to make that appointment.
The first step, however, is to take a peek under your personal “hood” and see where your health levels are before you visit your DOT doctor. There are thousands of self-administrated health-check stations at pharmacies and grocery stores across the U.S., where you can check your blood pressure, weight, BMI (body mass index) and heart rate. While you are at one of those places, also pick-up a do-it-yourself glucose-monitoring kit with a meter and check your blood-sugar levels
My experience has taught me that, depending on the individual’s conditions and levels that need to be corrected, most positive changes can happen over a 90-day period, getting you in a good position to pass and possibly upgrade your card term. They are even companies that can help you making simple changes that can equal positive results.
Getting your body in shape for medical certification — and keeping it that way — can be as easy as cutting back on high-sugar drinks and high-sodium foods, drinking more water, or starting a walking and/or fitness program.
I don’t know the right thing to do for everyone, but I do know the wrong thing, is to do nothing at all. You don’t drive your rig down the road at night with your lights out; manage your health the same way. In this case, look ahead regarding your health to put yourself at the “front of the line” when it’s time to re-cert.
Here are some resources that can help you with your journey: