Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Common sense, real math needed to retool medical registry estimates

There’s a final rule headed toward the trucking industry where the agency ignored some pretty simple math and the obvious reality it points to in justifying the upcoming deadline.

Starting May 21 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will require truckers needing medical certification or renewal of their certification to use a “certified” medical examiner. Truckers won’t be able to use just any qualified medical professional to get their DOT physical. They will have to use someone who paid and took a test to be on this special list that goes into effect in May.

That’s not so bad on the surface. But, as with anything, scratch the surface and things aren’t so simple anymore.

FMCSA estimated that by the time the reg goes in it will have 20,000 examiners registered and able to give DOT physicals. The agency goes on to estimate that over the course of the next two years – yes, two years – 20,000 more will be added to the list.

That just tells us medical professionals aren’t flocking to be a part of the registry and FMCSA knows it.

The problem is that there are an estimated 4.6 million medical certificates issued each year according to FMCSA. That’s the regular two-year certifications along with all of the certifications issued for shorter periods of time, in addition to a variety of non-truckers who will fall subject to this rule, like school bus and motor coach drivers.

Let that number sink in – 4.6 million. That’s a lot by any standards.

FMCSA is really na├»ve in trying to sell the 20,000 estimated medical examiners being registered initially and even remotely being able to handle that sort of demand for upwards of a year or more. Heck, it’s pretty suspicious to think that 40,000 will be able to handle 4.6 million exams.

I mean, seriously. Truckers face lines at the docks, at the truck stops for fuel and parking, at the DMV to get licensed and prove they’re medically certified. This registry is looking more and more like one long line truckers are going to have to wait in just so they can get back to work.

OOIDA has petitioned the agency to extend the May 21 deadline. Maybe if the agency grants that petition, they’ll take the additional time to let some reality and common sense soak in and realize that they’re going to need more participation in the registry to ever see this sucker take flight.