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New Federal Guidelines Mean More Physicals for Truck Drivers and - KOAM TV 7

New Federal Guidelines Mean More Physicals for Truck Drivers and Costs for Trucking Companies

Updated:

Many in the trucking industry must meet new guidelines from the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration".

     It involves how drivers deal with their health.

   Freeman Occumed today provided some help to local companies on how to deal with the new rules and regulations.

Truck drivers nationwide have to carry a Department of Transportation medical card showing they've passed a physical.

Bob Sponseller says of his expiration, “mine’s every year because of sleep apnea.”

In the past patients like Bob could get an extenuation of their physical to check on ailments and get treatments.

Dr. Dennis Estep is the medical director of Freeman Occumed. He says, "If somebody came in for elevated blood pressure, a good example, we would then give them a 30, 60, or 90 day card to  allow them to see their own primary care physician and get that under control. Once they came back again, we took their blood pressure and  it was back normal."

A new rule goes into effect December 22nd. When it does drivers or companies will have to pay for a complete new physical when the limited card expires. Some say that creates a financial burden.

Steve Page with Transport Distribution Company says, “It could figure in to be about ten to fifteen thousand dollars a year if you look at it, depending on the cases."

Occumed experts know more physicals could cost companies time and money. So Dr. Estep advises companies to start having drivers get their physicals at least forty-five days in advance of when a driver’s previous one would expire.

Danny Sexton, with D & D Sexton Trucking says, "I see that as a cost.

Instead of a two year physical where  we have twenty-four months, we only have twenty-two  months because have to send the driver two months early. So we've lost two months off the physical." 

But Dr. Estep says earlier checks offer an option that could prevent needing full physicals and prevent a driver from being pulled off the road.

He says, "There is also the determination pending. If somebody comes in and need to have something looked at or something done, we can put a forty-five  day hold on the physical. We don't issue them a card so as long as they have an active medical card, they can continue to drive during that forty-five day period."

But all agree with the goal of the changes.

Estep says, "The bottom line is trying to make sure drivers out there are healthy and safe."

Drivers can qualify for a two year certification. But trucking company officials say that's becoming more rare as drivers are an aging workforce.

     They say tighter guidelines on health issues could be compounded by the fact that the average age of a driver is fifty-seven.

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