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Diabetic Commercial Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the central agency that regulates the trucking industry in the U.S. They recently released a report stating that rules have been updated to allow those with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus (ITDM) to drive commercial trucks for interstate exchange. In the past, there was a requirement that a special exemption was acquired. This action eliminates some of the administrative and financial hurdles that had existed, while still ensuring that public safety is maintained.

Certified medical examiners (MEs) may now issue these individuals a Medical Examiner’s Certificate for up to a 12-month period. The process involves having the medical provider that is responsible for the management of the patient’s insulin regimen complete an MCSA-5870 form.

Medical Examiner Responsibilities

The ME will need to confirm that their patient does satisfy the standards for physically operating a commercial vehicle that FMCSA established. Records that detail the self-monitoring of blood glucose must be submitted for a minimum of the prior three-month period.  If these records are unable to be provided for a full three-month period, then the maximum period that a certificate to operate may span is three months.

Economic Advantages and Time Savings

Raymond P. Martinez, the FMCSA Administrator, explained that the drivers with ITDM will recognize financial savings and will enjoy how the new format “streamlines processes by eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens and redundancy.” The existing process that involved obtaining an exemption was described as having excessive “recurring” costs associated with renewals. There are approximately 5,000 drivers that currently maintain exemptions. As a group, the annual savings are expected to exceed $5 million.

The FMCSA itself is expected to recognize an annual saving that exceeds $1 million by reducing the administrative expenses. The current system was estimated to cost drivers who obtain exemptions roughly $6.75 million each year. Many drivers were also incurring some costs associated with state-based exemptions depending on where they operate.

If a Dangerous Diabetic Episode Occurs

If one of these operators experiences a severe hypoglycemic episode, they will be temporarily restricted from driving a commercial vehicle and must report the incident. The driver will then need to be evaluated in order to determine the cause of the episode. After producing evidence that the problem is properly controlled, the individual may continue operation.

A “severe hypoglycemic episode” is defined as an incident where the individual requires assistance from another person or experiences a loss of consciousness, seizure, or coma. Those who are determined to have a “severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy or proliferative diabetic retinopathy” are prohibited from operating commercial vehicles for interstate commerce.

Understanding Diabetes

  • Therapy involving insulin may be critical to those suffering from diabetes
  • Insulin is used to regulate the level of sugar in the blood
  • Carbohydrates that are consumed are converted to glucose that provides the body with energy
  • Any excess insulin is generally stored in the liver as glycogen, which is then available when needed
  • Those with Type 1 diabetes are typically required to continuously monitor and maintain their levels of blood sugar

About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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