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Medical certification rules for interstate truck drivers tightening

The health of truck drivers operating 80,000 pound vehicles on the highways for long hours is a matter of great concern for safety of both the truckers and others on the road. The lifestyle of long-haul truckers is hardly conducive to maintaining good habits of diet and exercise. Obesity, sleep apnea, and related ailments are too common, and ultimately affect safety.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has taken two new steps toward improving the supervision of medical certifications of drivers.

First, effective 1/30/09, regulations require states to maintain records linking medical certifications, medical examiner certifications, and CDL (commercial drivers license) records. A copy of these documents must be maintained in the motor carrier’s driver qualification file. There will be a three-year phase-in of the new rule until 1/30/12.

Second, the FMCSA has published for comment a proposed rule to establish a national registry of medical examiners, who would be required to complete training about truck driver physical qualification regulations. Only those doctors who complete and maintain their certifications would be allowed to certify the fitness of truck drivers.

These are steps in the right direction. Now I would like to see truck stop chains do their part by installing exercise facilities and offering healthier food options.

Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale), and is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.