A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that about 563,000 drivers in the DOT commercial drivers database also were rated as 100% disabled by other U.S. agencies. A House Transportation subcommittee had asked for a study of the scope of the problem of medically unfit commercial drivers on the road. The GAO’s report acknowledged it cannot give a precise answer, but their initial study raises concerns. A look at the data show that about 85% of these drivers appear to have active CDLs.
The report highlights a few egregious examples:
A Virginia truck driver, on disability since 1995 for multiple medical problems, including an amputated leg. The driver stated that the doctor tested his ability to use the prosthesis by pushing the doctor around the office in a rolling desk chair. The doctor has since had his medical license revoked. This driver had both Tanker and Hazmat endorsements since the disability. The driver’s truck rolled over in a 2006 incident when his load shifted. Virginia renewed his CDL with a Tanker endorsement in 2007.
A Maryland truck driver, on disability since 2001 due to severe lung problems, whose CDL was last renewed in 2007. The driver submitted a medical certificate from a doctor, but the medical examiner indicated it was forged.
A Virginia school bus driver on disability since 1998 for multiple schlerosis. This driver had never undergone a CDL medical examination. Virginia last renewed the driver’s CDL in 2006. This driver was cited as the cause of a three-vehicle collision that injured 16 people in 2006.
A Florida bus driver on disability since 1994 for lung problems. The driver admitted to investigators that he occasionally blacks out. The driver continues to serve as a substitute driver.
This study appears to only show the tip of the iceberg when it comes to medically unfit truckers. The study only identified the number of drivers that had applied for a U.S. government disability rating. The study could not identify drivers that had not applied for benefits, but were medically unfit, what I would call the “walking wounded.”
Given the inability to weed out the drivers that are in current databases as 100% disabled, I don’t have great confidence in the current system, which allows drivers to pick the doctor they want to examine them.