The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has decided to provide a grace period for changes mandated by its Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration Final Rule, due to take effect Dec. 22.
The notice will be published Monday in the Federal Register. In it, FMCSA acknowledges that enforcement of this compliance date “would not provide sufficient time for Certified Medical Examiners (CMEs) to become familiar with the new driver examination forms and/or program electronic medical records systems.”
FMCSA will provide a 120-day grace period during which medical examiners may use either the current or the newly revised versions of the Medical Examination Report Form and Medical Examiner’s Certificate. That window is open until April 20, 2016. Both sets of forms have been posted on the FMCSA website, and medical examiners have the option to use either set of forms until then, the notice states.
As OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth explained to Fleet Owner earlier this month, the risk is that many CMEs remain uninformed of the substantial changes to the process, and they will continue to use the current forms—documentation that will not be accepted by state licensing authorities. And that puts many truckers who need DOT medical exams in coming weeks and months at real risk of losing their livelihoods until the paperwork is in order.
“We’re not talking minor, one-word changes. There are substantial new procedures,” Grenerth said. “There is so much confusion, it’s just really ludicrous to think at this point FMCSA is going to be able to have all 47,000 CMEs confident of what they’re supposed to be doing when that date comes around. This is one heck of a potential storm that’s brewing if they don’t make sure everybody’s on board.”
OOIDA has petitioned to have the compliance date moved back to provide more time for the transition.