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Do I need a medical certificate if I only operate in my state?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that all drivers obtain a medical certificate demonstrating that they are healthy enough to handle a commercial vehicle safely. One question that comes up often among drivers is whether they need this medical certificate if they only drive intrastate. The answer is yes. However, individual states set the requirements for drivers who remain within state borders when making their deliveries.

Each of the 50 states uses some federal requirements when creating medical regulations. The FMCSA grants them the authority to adjust the requirements as necessary. Drivers employed by delivery services such as Federal Express must abide by interstate guidelines. This is true even though these drivers typically do not cross state lines when making their deliveries. You can learn more about the medical certificate requirements of each state at this link.

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Not a substitute for regular care from a doctor

Obtaining medical certification only means that you don’t have any conditions serious enough to affect your ability to safely drive a commercial vehicle. The FMCSA recommends that drivers still schedule annual check-ups with their doctor. This proactive approach helps to catch chronic health conditions for monitoring and intervention efforts. A doctor completing a medical certificate screening may not catch these issues and doesn’t have the same relationship that you have with your regular medical provider.

Areas checked by a medical examiner

The purpose of the driver fitness examination is to check several broad categories to determine whether the person has the capacity to drive safely. These health categories include:

  • Blood pressure: Having high blood pressure puts you at risk of heart attack, kidney failure, and stroke.
  • Cardiovascular: Certain heart conditions could increase the likelihood of losing control of your vehicle and crashing.
  • Diabetes: The medical examiner will test blood sugar to determine if you have this potentially serious chronic health condition that could impact safe driving.
  • Hearing: Your hearing must be adequate to hear sounds such as a horn or a warning buzzer.
  • Musculoskeletal: The examiner will ask about muscle diseases, missing limbs, or limited use of hands, arms, legs, or feet. Your back and spine should also be healthy.
  • Neurological: The examiner will review your history regarding head injuries, seizures, and headaches as well as test your balance and coordination.
  • Psychological and Drug Abuse: Psychological issues and drug dependency can impact your ability to gauge a situation safely and correctly.
  • Respiratory: Conditions such as asthma, emphysema, or sleep apnea can contribute to unsafe driving.
  • Vision: Your near, far, color, and peripheral vision must be good enough to see potential hazards on the road when driving.

Failing one of these areas doesn’t automatically disqualify you for a medical certificate. However, you will need to take corrective actions and may require more frequent screenings.

Schedule frequent insurance check-ups too

Just as you visit your doctor annually to monitor your health, it’s a good idea to see if you’re getting the best rates and coverage for your commercial insurance. We invite you to submit a quote request form to get started with some truck insurance quotes for your business. If you prefer, you can give us a call or message us on LiveChat.