Driving a truck can be a physically demanding job. In fact, in order to obtain a commercial driver’s license applicants need to undergo a medical examination.

The Secretary of Transportation (DOT) Ray LaHood has issued a new safety rule to address the unique demands associated with this profession. The ultimate goal of the rule is to reduce the prevalence of deadly truck accidents caused by fatigued or otherwise incapable truckers.

This rule requires “healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations for interstate truck and bus drivers to be trained, tested and certified on the specific physical qualifications that affect a driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle.” These exams review the driver’s overall medical fitness, including a check for cardiovascular disease as well as any issues with respiratory and muscular functions.

New Rule Intended to Ensure Safety

Commercial drivers are required to pass a DOT medical exam every two years to obtain a valid medical certificate, commercial driver’s license and legally drive a commercial vehicle. Doctor’s performing the medical examination must complete a Medical Examination Report reviewing the driver’s health history, vision, hearing, blood pressure and complete a comprehensive physical exam. The exam includes an evaluation of the employee’s general appearance, lungs and chest, vascular system, extremities, spine and neurological functions.

Secretary LaHood states the motivation behind the use of specially qualified doctors is to ensure safety on the nation’s roadways. Those employed as commercial truck drivers have a unique set of physical and mental demands while on the job.

The rule is designed to make sure doctors who examine these professionals are well aware of the demands the driver’s must meet while on the road. Failure to take unfit drivers off the roads increases the likelihood of devastating accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s Administrator agrees with the ruling, stating it “raises the bar for safety.” The rule is scheduled to go into effect May 21, 2014.

Even before this rule becomes effective, drivers will continue to be required to fulfill specific qualifications to legally drive commercial trucks. If a truck driver violates these requirements, they may be held liable if involved in an accident which results in injuries.

If you or a loved one is injured in a trucking accident, you may be eligible for compensation to cover medical and rehabilitative expenses. As a result, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your unique situation and better ensure that your legal rights and remedies are protected.