What are DOT physicals?
Federal law requires drivers of commercial motor vehicles (DMVs) to receive regular physical examinations. These exams are defined as the “Department of Transportation Medical Examinations.” DOT physicals are highly regulated for the drivers’ safety. They detect physical, mental, and emotional issues that can affect a driver’s ability to safely drive a commercial vehicle. DOT medical examiners are specially trained to understand the regulations and prevent drivers from being inappropriately disqualified.
The FMCSA has published a new final rule. Concentra can help you maintain compliance.
Driving a commercial motor vehicle means long, hard hours on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has updated the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations to better reflect the physical demands drivers face and help them be safer on the job.
Rather than immediately using only the new forms, the previous versions of the MER and MEC forms will be phased out starting on December 22, 2015. This will continue for a 120-day grace period. During the grace period, both the previous versions and the revised versions of the MER and MEC forms are being accepted by the FMCSA. Currently, Concentra accepts only the original MER and MEC forms. The revised forms and rules will be implemented at all Concentra locations on February 29, 2016.
When does the grace period end?
The FMCSA grace period for using the old MER forms ends on April 20, 2016. From that time, only the revised versions of the MER and MEC forms can be used or will be accepted by federal requirement.
When do we have to use the new forms?
On April 20, 2016, all DOT physicals are required to be completed according to the new regulations. These forms include:
- Revised Medical Examination Report (MER) form MCSA-5875
- Revised Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC) form MCSA-5876
- Revised Medical Examination Results form MCSA-5850
If you are an employer or driver who uses DOT physical exam guidelines but aren’t required to get a medical examination certificate by law, you can still use your own form, or a customized version of the revised forms. Everyone who is required by law to get an MEC will only be able to use the new forms.
What’s changed about the forms?
There are a few changes on the revised forms. If you’re a driver, you’ll need to:
- Sign the new privacy statement
- Specify if you’re a CDL applicant, CDL holder, CLP applicant, or CLP holder
- Complete additional health history questions
- Specify your driving territory (national or state)
Your medical examiner will have to note if you were referred by or if they received documentation from an ophthalmologist or optometrist for vision. They’ll also have to document the type of photo ID you used to verify your identity.
How are drivers impacted by the new FMCSA DOT physical rules?
If you are a driver, you’ll now have to complete a new exam in order to extend your short term (24 months or less) certification. You also may need to plan for more time to complete your DOT physical, since both you and your medical examiner have several new questions to answer on the new forms.
If you are an interstate driver, you may be impacted by new statuses applying to interstate certification: “pending” and “incomplete.”
What is different about the exam status?
There are two new exam statuses for interstate certifications:
- Pending. This status is assigned to drivers who have not submitted all medical information needed for their DOT exam. Under the new final rule, you will have 45 days to complete your exam and give your medical examiner the additional information. If you aren’t able to complete it within 45 days, you’ll have to take a new exam. Drivers with a current medical examiner’s certificate (MEC) fall into this category. If you have an MEC, you can continue to operate a CMV until it expires or your pending status period ends (whichever is first or earliest).
- Incomplete. This status is assigned if a driver doesn’t complete the exam. If your exam is incomplete and was not assigned pending status, you will have to retake the exam.
These new exam statuses apply only to national (interstate) drivers. If you only drive within one state, you aren’t impacted by the new statuses.
Visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov for more information about the revised forms and the new FMCSA final rule.