More time needed to review Medical Examiner Handbook, OOIDA says

September 2, 2022

Mark Schremmer


The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for more time to review its 122-page Medical Examiner Handbook draft.

Last month, FMCSA published a notice regarding the draft of the latest handbook and gave the public 45 days to comment.

In a letter sent on Thursday, Sept. 1, OOIDA requested a 60-day extension to the comment period.

“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.”

FMCSA’s current comment deadline is Sept. 30. If granted, the extension would give the public through November to review the handbook.

The goal of the updated 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.

The first version of the 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 photos of crashes, and reminded certified medical examiners that they could be fined.

To avoid a repeat of history, OOIDA said the public should be given additional time to comment on the updated draft of the handbook.

“Extending the comment period that currently ends on Sept. 30 will help prevent the agency from once again removing the Medical Examiner Handbooks due to inaccurate or misleading information,” OOIDA wrote. “While the (handbook) is a resource for medical examiners, the document must also strive to educate professional drivers about physical qualification standards and other medical regulations. Considering the amount of time and resources it will take to develop meaningful feedback … we believe FMCSA should grant a 60-day extension to file comments.”

How to comment

To comment, click here or go to the website and enter Docket No. FMCSA-2022-0111. Until FMCSA makes a decision on OOIDA’s request, the deadline will remain Sept. 30. LL


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.