Med Exam Pass?
On FMCSA Validation of Driver Medical Cards
What's it going to take? A "Med Exam Pass" to
"pre-clear" professional truck drivers who have already gone through
all the steps to make sure that they have:
- Obtained a DOT physical from a
- Been evaluated for sleep apnea;
- Who knows what else to make
sure that they are
"medically qualified" to drive a truck?
Why Target the
first read the article about how "the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration and its state-based partners will
begin conducting random verifications of driver medical cards",
something just didn't sound right. (Other articles on this subject are here, here and here.)
The more she thought on this, the more troubling this
subject became, for these reasons:
There seems to be a bit of a contradiction
in the endeavor. Notice two quotes from the article:
- "The purpose, it says,
is... not to evaluate
the driver for 'fitness to operate a CMV,' says FMCSA's announcement."
- "The goal, the agency says
the announcement, is to
'...keep medically unqualified drivers off our nation's highways.'"
Perhaps we don't understand the delicate
but "fitness to operate a CMV" and medical qualification seem to be
very closely related if not the same.
Someone may say that it is the FMCSA's or DOT's
"right" or even "duty" to "verify that a driver’s medical examination
was indeed conducted and that the information on the certificate is
accurate" during "enforcement and compliance inspections of trucks and
drivers" (as the article says).
But why are the professional truck
who have jumped
through all of the hoops the ones who are going to have to bear the
the inspection -- again?
After all, who are the ones who are going to have
to wait while all of the "verifications" are being made? The drivers!
And who will be paying the drivers for their waiting
time while these verifications are being made? Probably no one.
Wasn't this whole issue about getting a proper DOT
medical exam (DOT physical) and a driver medical card supposed to have
been addressed when all the
medical examiners supposedly got certified?
Not only that, but if the FMCSA or DOT is truly
for "unqualified drivers," do they really think that checking the
paperwork on a
"random" basis is going to catch them?
Any renegades (assuming there are any) are likely to
avoid places where trucks and drivers get inspected and thus elude
We think that there is an easier way for all of this
med exam mess (assuming there is one) to be straightened out, one that
will not inconvenience the drivers at all. We'll propose it below.
Before that, let's consider a few things...
Putting New Controls
Assuming this procedure takes root -- and as much as we
don't like the thought of it -- we envision the
day when some kind of Med Exam Pass may be instituted.
What do we mean by a Med Exam Pass? Well, envision an
individualized and health-directed form of PrePass. Here's
what PrePass says about itself.
We have benefited in trucking from using
that doesn't mean we would favor something like a Med Exam Pass system.
Why don't we like the thought of a Med Exam Pass?
Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying:
They who can give up essential liberty to
obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
If this saying was paraphrased for this topic, it might
They who can give up essential health privacy to
obtain driving pre-clearance, deserve neither health privacy nor
PrePass uses a transponder for driving pre-clearance.
Would a Med Exam Pass system use something like a transponder -- but
that moves with the driver instead of being issued to the truck?
Well, so many professional drivers have Smartphones now.
More and more drivers are using mobile apps upon which to keep their
There may come a day in which some kind of Med Exam Pass
app is created to link an electronic version of a driver's "Medical Examination Report FOR COMMERCIAL
DRIVER FITNESS DETERMINATION" with his or her cell phone as
the pre-clearance tool.
However, there could be multiple problems associated
with a Med Exam Pass app. Consider how:
- the system can be
hacked or rigged;
- people who do not need this
information may be able to gain
access to it (sort of like anyone being able to read unprotected credit card information
cheap RFID reader); and
- people who can legitimately
access the information in
the course of their jobs can "save" the info to personal devices which
can then be hacked.
We have learned that a hacker gained access
to a South Carolina Department of Revenue database containing
some 3.6 million Social
Security numbers from citizens and info from 657,000 businesses who
filed income tax returns in the state in recent years. If it is
possible that a statewide
database can get hacked -- and if a
Department of Defense Pentagon computer system can get hacked -- then anything
New Controls Won't
Help the Stated Purpose
The idea of a medical exam pass (Med Exam Pass)
may seem like a good one, but its creation would be one more step
system and one that we don't think will bring us any closer to safer
driving or safer highways. (Note: Some folks are squarely against electronic health records and a national
identity card for
Not only that, but if more than 80% of truck accidents "are
the fault of the non-commercial driver," implementing a Med
on the truckers alone will not serve the purpose for which any
government agency would say it is intended.
A Mountain Out of a
Why are we even addressing this verification or
potential Med Exam Pass issue? After all, the
article says that the officials will be conducting verifications on a
Yes, the number of verifications performed is likely to
low in proportion to the total number of truckers.
However, what if you're one of the few drivers who "wins
Someone is likely to question why we have linked to
video based on Shirley Jackson's short story in which the townsfolk
to death one
of their own.
One disturbing fact that becomes apparent in the movie
is that not one single person -- not even from the family of the
"lottery winner" -- was willing to stand up against the stoning.
One interpretation of the short story is that it is
about upholding traditions even when those traditions are bad. As you
know, all traditions start somewhere.
We think that starting to conduct "random" verifications
at the driver level is the start of a tradition that doesn't need to be
Furthermore, instituting any kind of Med Exam Pass would reinforce the
driver-level verification program.
Is this not an issue that all
truck drivers should band together on, to press for a better
verification of driver medical cards?
If we don't all stand up to
our own, we may one day be the one who is targeted.
A Better Way to Handle
In order for a trucker to get behind the wheel of a
vehicle in the first place, he or she has to meet the physical qualifications for drivers
and go through the steps of getting a medical examination; certificate of physical
examination. The person conducting this examination is
supposed to have already gotten a Medical Examiner's Certificate.
the FMCSA doubts its own system of requiring DOT physicals on
professional truck drivers by certified medical examiners, we think
that the agency ought to be looking through
records at trucking companies or in the offices of those
conducting The DOT Medical Exam and CMV Certification.
(They could do a much more thorough job of verification or validation
in either of those locations.)
Professional drivers have already done everything they
need to do to
drive a truck. We don't need another "verification" or "validation" at
the driver level to slow us
down and interfere with our ability to earn a living.
Truckers, you have the right to question the start of
new tradition that could potentially hinder your ability to earn a
Even though we wrote it specifically regarding
think you have the right to ask for substantiation
regarding the benefit of any new program or procedure being implemented
that will or
could affect you.
Where Will It End?
We are not aware of any quotas on the number of drivers
who will be
inconvenienced by this new procedure. Nor are we aware of any
definition of "success" or specifications that have been put in place
to call for the program's continuation.
However, if this new procedure is allowed to take hold,
it most likely won't be
the last. We predict greater and greater scrutiny and delay for drivers
in the USA.
We hope that professional truck drivers will
rally together on this
issue and speak out. The FMCSA's website is here.
Money saving tip: Be
vigilant regarding the release of your personal health information as
shown on your DOT physical and medical examination report.
Remember that that report has your name and Social
Security Number on it! That's all someone needs to steal your
identity. Your report also has your birthdate on it.
Be careful regarding using any type of tracking
system -- like a Smartphone app -- that contains your personally
identifiable information, that could be read by others or hacked. This
includes a potential Med Exam Pass app.
Stand against easy transmission of your private
health records by any means outside
Understand the risks of transmitting your
private heath records even under
your control, such as the tapping or hacking of that
information by unauthorized personnel.
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