DOT to conduct audit into FMCSA’s medical certificate program

May 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General is conducting an audit of the FMCSA’s medical certificate program.

“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s roads requires addressing the increase in fatalities involving large trucks and buses,” the OIG wrote in an announcement on Feb. 20. “One key area of addressing motor carrier safety is to ensure that commercial drivers maintain a valid medical certificate, which confirms they are healthy enough to safely operate the commercial vehicle.”

According to the OIG, the objectives of the audit will be to evaluate the FMCSA’s procedures for oversight of its medical certificate program and validating information in its National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. A DOT physical for commercial driver medical certification is valid for up to two years.

The justification for the audit appears to be based on six convictions related to fraud in the medical certification process since August 2014. In a memorandum to FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez, Assistant Inspector General Barry DeWeese also cited an 11 percent increase in large truck and bus fatality crashes from 2012 to 2017.

However, the memorandum did not specify whether or not the OIG believes these cases of fraud led to an increase in crashes or that if fraud in the medical certification process is thought to be a more widespread problem than the six convictions in nearly five years indicate.

While the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association questions the reasons given for the audit, the Association is hopeful it will shed light on other problems with the medical certification program that negatively affect drivers.

“We don’t think that six fraud convictions in nearly five years indicate that this is a widespread problem,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh said. “But we do hope the audit will reveal some of the other issues we have with the entire medical examiner’s certification integration rule, such as how second opinions will work and how the driver is going to be notified that the state did receive his medical certification.” LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.