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Update: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Women in Buses Council American Bus Association September 17, 2014. Elaine Papp, RN, MSN, COHN-S, FAAOHN Chief, Medical Programs Division. Agenda. Overview of FMCSA Medical Programs and Medical Certification Requirements

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Update: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)Women in Buses CouncilAmerican Bus AssociationSeptember 17, 2014

Elaine Papp, RN, MSN, COHN-S, FAAOHNChief, Medical Programs Division


Overview of FMCSA Medical Programs and Medical Certification Requirements

National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners

Medical Exemptions

Online tools

fmcsa mission
FMCSA Mission

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is focused on reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

interstate or intrastate
Interstate or Intrastate
  • Defined by transportation of goods:
  • Interstate commerce, transports people or goods across a state line
    • Example -- Federal Express driver
  • Intrastate commerce, transports people or goods within the state
    • Example -- A gravel truck driver -- gravel from a quarry within a state to businesses in the same state
truck and bus driver statistics
Truck and Bus Driver Statistics
  • 3.5 million active interstate drivers
    • 3 million CDL holders
  • Approx. 539,033 active interstate motor carriers
medical program activities
Medical Program Activities
  • Rulemaking/Guidance Development
  • Research
    • Medical Review Board
    • Medical Expert Panels
    • Evidence Reports
  • Compliance Assistance
  • Medical Exemptions/Variances
    • Vision, Diabetes, Hearing, Seizure
    • Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE)
    • Agency has requested public comment on exemption applications for seizure conditions and hearing loss
purpose of the medical certification examination
Purpose of the Medical Certification Examination
  • Determine a driver's physical qualification to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)
    • Interstate commerce
    • 49 CFR 391.41-49
  • Med Cert/CDL Rule
    • Driver must provide MEC to SDLA to obtain or maintain commercial driver’s license
medical examiner responsibilities
Medical Examiner Responsibilities
  • Knowledgeable about:
    • Physical and mental demands of CMV driver job duties
    • FMCSA regulations, including guidance
  • Use of medical protocols
  • Make medical determinations based on FMCSA regulations and advisory criteria
national registry background
National Registry Background
      • New regulation - Published April 20, 2012
      • Requires medical examiners:
    • Complete training
    • Pass a test
    • Periodic training and testing
    • Maintain licensure
    • Report completed CMV driver examinations monthly
  • Compliance Date – May 21, 2014
    • All CMV drivers must use a ME on the National Registry
    • Medical certificates issued prior to May 21, 2014 are valid until the expiration date
national registry statistics
National Registry Statistics

As of September 15, 2014

  • 57,924 ME - registered but haven’t taken test
    • 35,483 ME – passed test, not yet certified
    • 34,819 ME – certified on registry
  • National Registry is working
    • Finding ME fraud
  • Be sure to check the National Registry for your ME’s certification
  • If ME not certified – driver needs a different ME
regulations and advisory criteria
Regulations and Advisory Criteria
      • Regulations
    • Mandatory
  • Advisory Criteria
    • Assist the Medical Examiner in making individual determination of physical fitness for driving
medical exemption programs
Medical Exemption Programs
  • Federal Diabetes Exemption Program
  • Federal Vision Exemption Program
  • Hearing Exemptions
  • Seizure Exemptions
  • Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate Program
federal diabetes exemption program
Federal Diabetes Exemption Program
  • Exemptions for drivers who have insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
  • Drivers submit application
    • Medical information showing their diabetes is under control
    • To maintain exemption, drivers submit quarterly monitoring reports
    • Diabetes exemption application can be found at: or call (703) 448-3094

federal vision exemption program
Federal Vision Exemption Program
  • One eye does not meet the minimum vision requirements
  • Better eye must meet the minimum vision standard
  • Drivers submit application
    • Medical information showing driver is able to meet all other physical requirements
    • Experience driving with vision deficiency
    • Crash/violation history
    • Vision exemption application can be found at or call (703) 448-3094

federal hearing exemption program
Federal Hearing Exemption Program

Driver must perceive forced whisper in better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without hearing aid or no hearing loss in better in greater than 40 decibels at 500, 1,000 and 2,000 Hz with or without hearing aid

Driver may apply for an exemption by contacting the Medical Programs Division at FMCSA (202) 366-4001

federal seizure exemption program
Federal Seizure Exemption Program
  • Disqualified from operating in interstate commerce
  • 49 CFR 391.41(b)(8)
  • May be considered for exemption based on number of years:
    • Since last seizure, stable on anti-seizure medication, medical history
  • Exemption determinations are based on a case-by-case review
  • Driver may apply for an exemption by contacting the Medical Programs Division at FMCSA (202) 366-4001
skill performance evaluation spe
Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE)
  • Driver with loss or fixed limb impairment
  • Evaluation of driving skills
  • Driver completes application process including
    • Assessment and evaluation by an Orthopedic Surgeon or Physiatrist
    • Medical examination certification that designates he is otherwise qualified except for completion of the SPE
  • Congressional action
    • Public Law 113-45
      • Signed into law October 2013
    • Requires Agency to develop regulation on OSA before issuing new guidance
  • What does the Agency say about OSA?
  • Included in respiratory dysfunction regulation 49 CFR 391.41(b)(5)
  • Advisory criteria
    • Respiratory dysfunction
  • MRB/MCSAC Recommendations to Agency
    • Two-pronged approach
      • Interim - guidance
      • Long-term - rulemaking
  • Agency has not taken action on MRB/MCSC recommendations
  • Focus for ME
    • Use medical protocols/standards of clinical care to determine physical qualification
      • Like all other medical conditions
    • Consider the actual risk of sudden or gradual incapacitation
    • Undiagnosed OSA with risk factors
      • Consider issuing short-term medical card for testing and treatment
    • Driver diagnosed and successfully treated
      • Demonstrated compliance with treatment
        • Letter from treating clinician
        • CPAP recorder printout
        • Dental device tracking printout or other
online tools
Online Tools
  • You may access the following on the the FMCSA website:
    • Evidence Reports
    • Medical Expert Panel Reports
    • Medical Review Board (MRB) Recommendations
    • Medical Examiner’s Handbook (pdf version)
contact information
Contact Information

Federal Motor Carrier Safety

Administration, Medical Programs Division

U.S. Department of Transportation

Washington, D.C.


Phone: (202) 366-4001

Fax: (202) 366-8842


National Registry