GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the national organization exclusively representing professional and small-business truckers, says that the government needs to create a better system for those seeking to resolve conflicts involving their medical certifications, which are required to get a commercial drivers license.
By way of public comments, OOIDA submitted its concerns to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed information collection request regarding the Medical Qualification Requirements, or the “Resolution of Medical Conflict” provision.
“This program is supposed to resolve medical conflicts but it simply doesn’t work,” said Lewie Pugh, vice president of OOIDA. “Rather than just complaining about it, we continue to provide FMCSA with reasonable solutions to make the program more timely and effective.”
The Resolution of Medical Conflict provision provides a mechanism for drivers and motor carriers to request that FMCSA make a final decision to resolve conflicting medical evaluations when either party does not accept the decision of a medical specialist.
If two medical examiners disagree about the certification of a driver, the requirements set forth in 49 CFR 391.47 mandate that the driver or motor carrier submit a copy of a report including results of all medical testing and the opinion of an impartial medical specialist in the field in which the medical conflict arose.
These situations typically involve a certified medical examiner who is requiring expensive testing while basing their justification upon a cursory “examination” which may include no further evidence than the visual observation that the driver has what they consider to be a “large neck.” The existing provision is only constructed to intervene in a conflict between the physician for the driver and the physician for the motor carrier concerning the driver’s qualifications. The process also requires that once an application is submitted, the driver is disqualified until “the director…makes a determination.”
“This completely removes any incentive to utilize this program, given the driver will immediately lose their ability to earn an income,” said Pugh. “We encourage the FMCSA to incorporate our suggested changes so that a driver may continue working while the resolution is being reviewed and adjudicated.”
OOIDA also recommended that all decisions be made within a 90-day time period instead of the unlimited review window currently in place and that the agency should do more to protect and evaluate second opinions.
“Right now, the agency has no way to determine which exam is the second opinion,” said Pugh.
OOIDA currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide.