So you just had your new DOT physical...

By Mark H. Reddig, 'Land Line Now' Host

An old expression says nothing is certain in life but change. And perhaps nowhere is that more true these days than in trucking.

Here’s one example: Starting May 21, 2014, any trucker getting a new physical will have to use a doctor on the FMCSA’s Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.

But what about right now? An OOIDA member called us recently with some questions along that line.

He wondered if his physical was good for the normal two years. If he has a new physical performed before the May 21, 2014, deadline, will it have to be done over after that deadline, using a doctor on the registry?

He’s not the only trucker to ask these questions. And they deserve answers. So here goes:

Recently, I heard Elaine Papp of the FMCSA speaking to the Truck Driver Social Media Convention. She offered some great information, and good common sense, about the process.

First, I heard nothing from her about a medical exam being good for an abbreviated period of time. It should be good for the normal amount of time.

Plus, Elaine said that if you get an exam one day before the registry goes into effect with an examiner who is not on the registry, it will be good until it would normally expire. So you would not need another exam until after that normal two-year term.

If you get an exam after the deadline, then you have to go to the registry and find a new examiner there.

Elaine offered up some other interesting information.

She said they have about 4,000 examiners at this point – although some of the folks who have searched for a doctor in their areas have experienced the same thing you have – no doctors even remotely near them.

FMCSA, according to Ms. Papp, needs roughly 40,000 examiners by the time the registry is required.

Part of the site is a Google Maps function. You can enter where you are or where you live and see examiners on a map. The FMCSA wants to use that function to identify areas that need, but do not have, registered examiners so they can do some recruiting.

Will that all work out? Will the FMCSA have enough registered examiners in time? I have my concerns.

But that’s a problem we’ll have to deal with down the road. At this point, the important thing to remember is the exam you get today is, barring any complications, good for two years. LL