WASHINGTON — The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation Wednesday informed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that the OIG’s office is planning an audit of the FMCSA’s medical certificate program.
In a memorandum sent to the FMCSA, the OIG’s office cited the fact that fatalities in crashes involving large trucks or buses grew from 4,397 in 2012 to 4,879 in 2017, an 11 percent increase.
“One key area of addressing motor carrier safety is to ensure that commercial drivers maintain a valid medical certificate, which confirms they are healthy enough to safely operate the commercial vehicle,” the OIG said in its memorandum. “However, since August 2014, Office of Inspector General criminal investigations have resulted in eight indictments and six convictions as a result of fraud in the medical certification process.”
For example, the OIG said an August 2017 indictment of a medical examiner in Georgia resulted in more than 600 truck operators having to renew their FMCSA medical certifications.
“Given the rise in motor carrier fatalities and the significant safety risk posed by fraudulent medical certificates, we are initiating this audit,” the OIG told FMSCA. “Our audit objectives are to evaluate FMCSA’s procedures for (1) oversight of its medical certificate program, including commercial driver medical certificate data quality, and (2) validating information in its National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.”
The FMCSA’s Office of Medical Programs requires commercial drivers with a
CDL to submit a current medical examiner’s certificate to state driver’s licensing agencies.
A U.S. DOT physical exam for commercial driver medical certification is valid for up to 24 months. In January 2015, FMCSA established a database to receive digital copies of medical certificates directly from medical examiners.
In addition, FMCSA is implementing a process for states to receive medical certificate information directly from DOT.
FMCSA maintains a list of all physicians and other medical professionals authorized to conduct medical examinations and certification of CDL holders in its National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
The OIG said it plans to begin the audit immediately.
Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.