Audit Finds Weaknesses in Oversight of Truck Driver Medical Exam Data
A new audit has revealed multiple flaws in how a key federal agency monitors the qualifications of medical examiners who examine commercial truck drivers and certify they are physically healthy enough to get behind the wheel.
The DOT’s Inspector General Audit called out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for multiple failures regarding the agency’s “ability to oversee whether drivers meet physical qualification standards to safely operate a commercial vehicle.”
The audit said the FMCSA was hampered in its ability to ensure truckers were physically qualified because:
- The agency “has not fully implemented requirements for random periodic monitoring of medical examiners’ eligibility and performance.”
- There was a 7-month outage in the Medical Examiners National Registry that led to driver examination reports not being entered.
These flaws have created “data quality issues, including missing records” and “limits the effectiveness of FMCSA’s oversight.”
Audit Shows Flaws in the Trucker Health Screening System
Approximately 780,000 driver medical exam results could be missing from the registry, according to the audit. Making matters worse, 46% of the medical examiners who were members of the registry had outdated medical licenses. The auditors observed that the FMCSA conducted initial reviews of medical examiners’ eligibility but failed to do any annual recertifications.
The medical examiner registry first launched in 2014, so the fact that the data is so flawed after only a few years was a surprise to many.
In response to the audit, the FMCSA said, “A fully functional National Registry is a priority under [our] IT Modernization Plan. We plan to award a contract to rebuild the National Registry in the second quarter of the fiscal year 2021.”
Trucker Health Is Important to Reducing Accidents
There are many reasons why only healthy truckers should be allowed to drive. They are in charge of massive vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. If a driver has a health episode while behind the wheel and can’t control the vehicle, it becomes a deadly force. Other drivers and pedestrians can be injured or killed.
The trucking lifestyle is hard on driver’s bodies due to long hours sitting down and an often-poor diet. Medical exams are important to discover any health issues that might endanger the driver or others on the road.
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