Starting April 1, Canadian drivers with Class 5 (and in some cases Class 3) or Class G licences must meet new medical standards to operate commercial vehicles in the US.
US law will require the drivers of a commercial vehicle with a GVW of 4,536 kgs or more to have completed a medical examination indicating they are physically qualified to safely operate a commercial vehicle in the US. Canadian licensed commercial drivers are qualified to operate in the US if they meet all of the requirements to operate in Canada and do not have: insulin-dependent diabetes; hearing impairment; or epilepsy, requiring anti-convulsant medication for control.
Why the change? Currently the Canada-US reciprocity agreement recognizes a Canadian commercial licence as proof that a medical has been completed.
The US FMCSA, however, has recently identified Canadian drivers operating commercial vehicles in the US with Class 5 or Class G driver’s licences (in some cases Class 3 as well) as needing to come into compliance with US law by April 1. These drivers are not required to obtain medicals in most Canadian jurisdictions currently, and therefore have been operating in the US outside of current US regulations.
There are three options suggested by the FMCSA to obtain the appropriate medical confirmation in advance of April 1: Each Canadian jurisdiction is offering some or all of these solutions (except as noted) for its residents. The three options are: Submit a completed FMCSA Medical Report form; Upgrade existing Class 5 (G-class in Ontario) or in some cases, a Class 3 licence to a licence class whereby a medical report is required) or; Seek the services of a certified FMCSA medical examiner and be issued a medical certificate.
Drivers failing to obtain appropriate medical confirmation by April 1, 2016 may be subject to fines and/or the vehicle may be placed out-of-service by US enforcement. Once obtained, it is important to note that proof of medical confirmation must be in the driver’s possession when operating in the US after April 1. Questions about this policy can be directed to FMCSA at 202-366-4001.
The options that are being offered by each jurisdiction are listed below. Please contact the Minister of Transportation’s office for the region you are in to obtain complete instructions and forms, or feel free to contact the PMTC office.
Alberta and Saskatchewan: Both of these provinces are offering all three of the above options to their drivers. Both have a Medical Exam Form available. Saskatchewan’s is online and Alberta’s medical form is available at any Alberta Registry Agent office or at most doctor’s offices.
British Columbia: The Ministry is advising drivers that they can upgrade their licence to one that complies with the medical standards or have a medical done by an approved physician (per the FMCSA list).
Manitoba: The Ministry of Transportation has advised drivers of two-axle commercial motor vehicles of 4,536 kgs or more that they will need to either have a medical done by a physician on FMCSA’s approved list, or upgrade to a
Class 3 licence, which requires a medical that meets the required standards.
Newfoundland: For drivers of ‘light-duty’ trucks with a Class 5 licence that cross into the US, the Ministry is providing a letter of confirmation when they complete a medical and submit it for review and meet the FMCSA’s standards.
New Brunswick: Will be advising drivers who may be affected to either upgrade to a commercial N.B. driver’s licence or to submit a medical form completed by their physician to the Registrar’s office for review. If they meet the medical standards for a commercial driver, they will be issued a Medical Confirmation Letter signed by the Registrar.
Nova Scotia: Will not be offering a Medical Confirmation Letter or an endorsement on their licence, so it will be advising affected drivers to obtain a medical using FMCSA’s approved list, or to upgrade their licence to a commercial one requiring a periodic medical.
Northwest Territories: No word yet on their plan of action in regards to this.
Nunavut: This does not apply; their weight restriction is in line with the US.
Ontario: Ontario is offering all three of the outlined solutions. Forms and info are available on the MTO’s Web site.
P.E.I.: The Ministry is offering an endorsement on the Class 5 licence. When the driver has a medical completed they can bring or fax it in to the Ministry for approval. For $20 they can have a duplicate licence issued with the “M” endorsement showing they meet the medical requirements.
Quebec: At the time I penned this article, Quebec indicated it was “in the process of evaluating different solutions to enable Quebec drivers to comply with the FMCSA regulation. No decision has been made yet.”
Yukon Territories: Will be advising drivers to upgrade to a commercial class licence.
If you are in need of having FMCSA driver medicals completed, you can contact DriverCheck at www.drivercheck.ca for more information. Bottom line, to protect your company and your drivers, ensure if you have a driver who will be operating a CMV into the US, regardless of their licence class, that they have a proper medical completed and filed prior to entering the US.
Mike Millian is president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, the only national association that represents the views and interests of the private fleet industry. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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