WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has granted Arizona-based Knight-Swift Transportation a temporary exemption from the requirement that motor carriers rely on motor vehicle records (MVRs) as proof of a driver’s medical qualifications as a condition of employment, according to a Nov. 4 notice in the Federal Register. The exemption will take effect Dec. 4, 2020 and expire Nov. 4, 2025.
Under the exemption, Knight-Swift can require newly hired commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders to undergo a complete medical examination; the company would rely on the MVR for drivers’ later annual reviews.
Knight-Swift first applied for the exemption March 8, 2016, citing the “prohibitive” cost of obtaining MVRs. According to a second application, submitted Oct. 16, 2019, the 2016 application “languished for over three years” without being reviewed and processed.
FMCSA on Dec. 23, 2019, published a notice of Knight-Swift’s application requesting public comments.
According to the most recent Federal Register notice, FMCSA received three comments from individuals; all opposed granting the exemption. After reviewing the comments, along with Knight-Swift’s application, which included supporting data, FMCSA granted the exemption, noting that the agency “believes … allowing Knight-Swift to rely on its records of medical certificates for the first year of employment for newly hired drivers would not compromise safety or enforcement of the medical certification requirements for CDL holders.”
In its application, Knight-Swift provided data on a sample pool of 5,722 newly hired Knight-Swift drivers with valid two-year medical cards. After undergoing Knight-Swift’s hiring process, 19% of the sample pool drivers were downgraded to a one-year certification and 2.1% were disqualified. Knight-Swift did not indicate whether it knew if these drivers (those holding a CDL) provided the new certification to the state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) issuing their licenses. To ensure an equivalent level of safety, Knight-Swift proposes to include in the driver qualification file the newly hired driver’s medical examination report in lieu of obtaining a second MVR.
Under the temporary exemption, Knight-Swift is subject to the following terms and conditions:
- Knight-Swift must maintain the initial MVR reviewed prior to hiring the driver showing the driver was medically certified by a health care professional on the agency’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
- The medical examiner’s report the company will rely upon for the first year of employment must be prepared by a health care professional on the agency’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and be available for inspection by federal or state enforcement personnel during an investigation or compliance review.
- Knight-Swift must obtain reliable proof that the new medical examiner’s certificate was provided by the driver to the SDLA and include such proof in the driver qualification file.
In addition, Knight-Swift must provide a quarterly report to FMCSA about newly hired drivers whose two-year medical certificate is downgraded to a shorter term or are medically disqualified after completing the company-mandated medical exam. This report must include:
- Driver’s full name;
- CDL number and state of issuance;
- Medical examiner’s name and FMCSA-issued National Registry identification number for the examination recorded on the MVR prior to the Knight-Swift medical exam;
- Examination date and expiration date for the medical exam noted on the MVR;
- Knight-Swift medical examiner’s name and FMCSA-issued National Registry identification number; and
- Knight-Swift examination date and expiration date for the medical exam.
To view the Nov. 14 Federal Register notice, click here.
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