It has been 16 years since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration first attempted to stamp out fraud in driver medical certifications by building the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME). Next year, if everything goes as planned, it will be fully implemented and drivers will no longer need to submit their medical certificates to the state licensing agency. So, after 17 years of waiting, what do motor carriers and drivers have to look forward to?

Earlier this year, the industry started to see some fruits of FMCSA’s labor when the Agency published a Federal Register notice announcing it would be removing nearly 16,000 certified medical examiners from the registry. Medical examiners were being removed for one of a few reasons:

  1. They failed to establish a account and link it to their NRCME account;
  2. They failed to take the required recertification training; or
  3. Their medical license shows as expired in FMCSA’s database.

This move is our first glimpse into the true purpose and power of the NRCME and what the future might hold for commercial vehicle drivers and carriers. It demonstrates how FMCSA is working to leverage automated data collection and analysis tools to monitor the industry, to identify clear violations, and act. This, in our opinion, is the low-lying fruit with which enforcement should start. In the future, we can expect FMCSA to more closely scrutinize medical exam results to mine for fraud and to potentially look for drivers engaging in excessive doctor shopping.

Another example of FMCSA improving its data collection and leveraging it to improve data quality and identify and address compliance problems is its rebuilding of the Unified Registration System. This system, 15 years in the making, will soon start leveraging data authentication tools to scan for and quickly identify fraudulent behavior, inactive and/or chameleon carriers (those that evade enforcement action by registering the same motor carrier under a different DOT number) and take action to correct these deficiencies and/or revoke registrations.

FMCSA is clearly in the database game. From the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to the Unified Registration System to the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, to the Training Provider Registry, the industry can surely expect FMCSA to continue to improve at using data it already collects to identify bad actors more easily and target them for improvement.