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FMCSA Streamlines Return Process for Diabetic Drivers

A recent change to the FMCSA’s regulations concerning drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus (ITDM) could help thousands of drivers get back on the road faster. The agency revised its regulations for permitting these drivers to conduct interstate commerce, as long as they have a stable insulin regimen in place to control the disease.

The revision allows drivers to get a one-year medical certificate from an examiner listed on the FMCSA’s national registry. First, drivers will need to complete an ITDM assessment form from their treating clinician by providing records from at least three months of blood glucose self-monitoring. If a certified medical examiner then determines that the driver maintains a stable insulin regimen and meets the FMCSA’s physical qualification standards, they can issue the medical certification.

What’s Different?

Before this change, drivers with ITDM weren’t allowed to drive until they could obtain an exemption from the FMCSA, a complex process that could take up to six months. While these exemptions lasted for two years— significantly longer than the new medical certificates— the time spent securing them often meant that drivers had to take long stretches of no pay.

Although the FMCSA first proposed the final change in 2015, the agency received mixed feedback during the public comment period. Many of the over 1,200 comments received supported the change, but others thought that the side effects of ITDM could present a serious hazard to the drivers and surrounding traffic. However, the FMCSA concluded that the crash risk is very low and noted that requirements and safeguards included in the changed regulation could help ensure safety.

Other Details

The new regulation doesn’t include any monitoring or other compliance requirements for motor carriers. However, employers can help keep drivers with ITDM on the road by encouraging them to monitor their health closely and adhering to the updated regulation.

Here are two other important details that could affect drivers:

  • If a driver has a severe hypoglycemic episode, they are automatically disqualified from operating a CMV and must report the incident to their treating clinician as soon as possible. The FMCSA defines a severe episode as one that requires the assistance of another person or that results in a loss of consciousness, seizure or coma.
  • If a driver with ITDM doesn’t have three months of blood glucose records, a certified medical examiner can use their discretion to grant a temporary certificate to allow time to collect the necessary samples.

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