Even so, the failure to have a medical certificate is a common infraction among commercial carriers. Under proposed guidelines being taken into consideration by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (“CVSA”), truck drivers who are unable to present a valid medical certificate could be taken off the road.
Changing Lack of Medical Certificate to Out-of-Service Violation
The CVSA’s new guidelines would take a truck driver out-of-service upon a second citation for not having a medical certificate.
Even though the addition of this offense to the out-of-service list for a second violation will increase the existing compliance burden for truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration urged the CVSA to adopt a zero-tolerance stance and take drivers from behind the wheel for a first instance of failing to produce medical certification.
However, freight industry representatives pointed out that while some drivers without a medical certificate have not completed a required exam, many are in fact fully qualified and simply forgot to carry a certification card. Preliminary data reports, they argued, indicate that driving without a medical certificate on hand is not correlated with higher truck accident rates. As such, they believe taking a driver out-of-service for this offense is inappropriate.
CVSA’s Middle Ground
The CVSA’s two-strike system is a compromise that helps balance the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s recommendation and trucking industry interests.
The CVSA’s decision will become official if it is approved at their full meeting this autumn. Although some states are expected to fall behind on implementation, roadside validation of truckers’ medical certificates and real-time checks for prior violations is scheduled to begin in January of 2012.