FMCSA extends comment period on Medical Examiner Handbook

September 14, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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Following a request from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the public will have an additional month to comment on the latest draft of the Medical Examiner Handbook.

In August, FMCSA published a notice regarding the draft of the latest handbook and gave the public until Sept. 30 comment. OOIDA then requested a 60-day extension to the comment period.

The agency published a response on Sept. 14, giving the public through Oct. 31 to provide feedback.

“FMCSA received requests for an extension to the comment period from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and two individuals,” the notice stated. “The agency finds it is appropriate to extend the comment period to provide interested parties additional time to submit their responses to the notice.”

The goal of the updated Medical Examiner Handbook is to provide information about regulatory requirements and guidance for medical examiners to consider.

FMCSA’s latest draft covers such topics as driver examination forms, physical qualifications for commercial drivers, the medical certification process, recording the examination and medical variances.

OOIDA said that more time was needed to thoroughly review the handbook. Former truck driver Bob Stanton and Daniel Spaulding also asked for additional time.

“The draft Medical Examiner Handbook is 122 pages long with highly detailed and technical information,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer. “We believe the initial 45-day comment period is not sufficient to thoroughly ensure that the updated (handbook) contains clarity and consistency so that all qualified individuals can receive medical certifications.”

The first version of the Medical Examiner Handbook was posted on FMCSA’s website in 2008 to provide guidance to medical examiners on the physical qualification standards in the regulations.

In 2015, the handbook was pulled down from public view after OOIDA and others complained that the handbook created confusion for certified medical examiners on what was regulation and what was guidance. The old version was about 250 pages, included pictures of crash photos, and reminded certified medical examiners that they could be fined.

To comment, go to the Regulations.gov website and enter Docket No. FMCSA-2022-0111. LL

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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.