The U.S. Department of Transportation is stepping up its enforcement of health regulations for commercial drivers

The rules haven’t changed regarding the health requirements for commercial driver licensure, but later this month, enforcement of those rules will see a substantial increase.

Starting May 21, physical examiners for those obtaining or renewing their CDL must be listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The driver and their employer are responsible for verifying the physician is on the list.

Restrictions regarding blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and neck circumference will see greater enforcement as will rules associated with diabetes, sleep apnea, or cardiovascular disease.

“Drivers with diabetes, hypertension, evidence of cardiovascular disease, or any other significant physical findings will likely be subjected to limitations on their CDL,” said Redmond-based medical clinic, Your Care, in a document presented to the Crook County School District transportation department. “There may be requests for further diagnostic testing and evaluation, and reports from treating physicians before the CDL can be extended."

The document later added that some drivers who obtained certification in the past may not qualify under the new guidelines and regulations.

Crook County School District Transportation Supervisor Deen Hylton anticipates some potential issues for some of the school bus drivers who need a CDL. He noted that if someone has diabetes or high blood pressure, the new enforcement standards will probably make them nervous.

"They have to show that it's under control or they won't be able to drive," he said. "If a driver is borderline, I assume they are worried about it."

Hylton also anticipates that some drivers will face added scrutiny despite the fact that their health is good. He referenced one employee in particular whose BMI, a measure of body weight versus height, might cause extra scrutiny.

"I have one driver who is a body builder who is probably in better shape than anyone else in the whole department," he said. "He would be under suspicion because he has more muscle mass, which makes him suspect. You can be in great health and be under more scrutiny."

As is the case in many school districts, Hylton is continually managing the student transportation department with fewer drivers than needed. The upcoming changes could reduce the driver pool even more.

"You never seem to have enough people, so this will make it a little harder," he said.

Scott Smith, street supervisor for the City of Prineville, anticipates the changes will have an impact, but nothing the public works department can't handle.

"The way we're looking at it is, it is what it is," he said. "We don't anticipate anybody not being able to pass their physical. It's just a little more indepth."

Nevertheless, Smith suspects that some drivers may see more limited CDL renewals depending on their health and the physician conducting the examination. He noted that he recently went in for his own physical and saw a new physician. Because the examination revealed an existing condition, they limited Smith to a one-year renewal instead of the typical two-year recertification. Had he gone to his long-time physician, who knew his medical history and how he controlled the condition with medication, he suspects he would have been cleared for a two-year renewal.

"We have budgeted money on a yearly basis for CDL-required exams and testing," Smith said. "We will probably want to review and maybe up that dollar amount because there is a good chance that some of the rest of our employees who are on a two-year cycle may be on a yearly cycle."

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