Technology Concerns Stall School Bus Medical Rule

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Due to technology concerns, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration extended certain provisions of the Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration final rule, which establishes guidelines for reporting and processing medical information from school bus drivers and other CDL holders.

The Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration final rule stated that all CDL applicants must undergo examination by a medical examiner on the National Registry. The results would be sent electronically to the FMCSA, which would then pass on the information to the state drivers licensing agency (SDLA) for addition to the applicant’s driving record in the Commercial Driver’s License Information System. If anything was found out of the ordinary, or if the driver failed a physical qualification exam, that driver’s record would promptly be updated, so any changes or downgrades of their CDL status could begin.

The rule, which was passed April 23, 2015 and had an initial deadline of June 22, 2018, stated that electronic transmission of the reports would be possible. However, a statement released Monday revealed that the FMCSA had “reluctantly concluded” that its IT systems, as well as those of the SDLAs, would not be ready by the deadline.

The deadline was pushed forward three years to June 22, 2021, “primarily to allow the SDLAs and FMCSA sufficient time to develop, test and install the necessary IT infrastructure.” Once those systems are in place, electronic records will trump paper ones.

Until then, Certified Medical Examiners must continue issuing a paper version of the Medical Examiner’s Certificate MCSA-5876 to applicants and holders of a commercial driver’s license or permit. Those individuals must then provide a copy to their SDLA, and carry a copy of the form for 15 days. The SDLA must continue processing paper forms. Motor carriers must also continue verifying that CDL holders were certified by a medical examiner on the National Registry.

However, one provision was not given an extended deadline. Medical examiners are required to report to FMCSA the results of physical examinations for all CDL holders, including results for drivers found to be unqualified, by midnight local time on the day after the exam.

Until June 22, 2021, states have 10 days from receipt of updated medical information from the FMCSA to update drivers’ records. After that date, states will have to make such changes within one business day of electronically receiving the information.

“In other words, except for the ME reporting requirement, this interim final rule continues the status quo for another 3 years,” the FMCSA stated.

Recent tragic incidents have brough school bus driver fitness into the spotlight. After investigating a fatal 2016 Baltimore crash caused in part by a school bus driver who did not report his health conditions, the NTSB called last month for improved reporting of pertinent driver medical information. Additionally, the driver of an Iowa school bus that caught fire last November was reported to have health problems; he and a student died in that blaze.

The FMCSA said it is accepting comments on the rule online or by fax, mail, or hand-delivery, and “may change this interim final rule based on your comments.” It provided the following information:

To submit your comment online, go to www.regulations.gov, type the docket number, FMCSA-2018-0152, in the keyword box, and click “Search.” When the new screen appears, click on the “Comment Now!” button and type your comment into the text box on the following screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual or on behalf of a third party and then submit.If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8.5 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit comments by mail and would like to know that they reached the facility, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope.

Mail:

Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE. West Bldg., Ground Fl. Rm. W12-140
Washington DC 20590-0001

Hand Delivery or Courier:

West Building, Ground Fl. Rm. W12-140

1200 New Jersey Ave. SE.
Washington DC
between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.

Fax:

202-493-2251