In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a new rule that promised to improve safety by requiring medical examiners (MEs) to be properly trained, and creating a system where driver medical certifications are transmitted directly to state licensing agencies (SLAs), eliminating fraud and making it easier for carriers to verify their drivers were qualified to drive. While the industry waited for the technical connection to be made between MEs and the SLAs, carriers, and drivers have been required to verify MEs are listed on the FMCSA’s national registry and to deliver the med card to the SLA. A small price to pay for improvements to the medical examination process.
The last decade, however, has brought a bevy of technical issues resulting in frustrating delays to the full implementation date, now scheduled for June 22, 2021, the time at which the FMCSA registry is supposed to transmit data directly to SLAs, and everyone’s life becomes easier. Unfortunately, a new IG report, published in January 2021, revealed that it is unclear when the FMCSA’s registry will be ready for primetime, and SLAs are saying they’ll need another 6 to 18 months to update their systems with the new specifications, which have not been supplied to them. To be sure, FMCSA has built, and continues to build some good IT systems. But, STC has noticed a familiar pain point, FMCSA IT challenges, and communication with state IT systems. Hopefully, this doesn’t impact important future projects like the Training Provider Registry—scheduled for roll-out later this year—and future improvements to the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, both of which must communicate with SLAs. Either way, STC has some advice for carriers and drivers: don’t expect to stop verifying ME’s are listed on the FMCSA registry and delivering med cards to SLAs anytime soon.