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Will Waiver of CDL Rules Lead to More Truck Accidents in Oklahoma?

Posted on April 1, 2020

Fallout from the spread of COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on market sectors across the globe, but the trucking industry remains hard at work to deliver essential supplies where they are needed most.

Holders of Commercial Driver’s Licenses in Oklahoma strive to keep up with consumer demand for food and paper products, while also delivering medical supplies to hospitals and other health care facilities.

In its efforts to ensure these items can reach their intended destinations without delay, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced some changes to the licensing and renewal process for CDL holders. Starting March 20, 2020, FMCSA is waiving certain requirements as follows:

  • Holders of expired CDLs can continue working and are legal to operate a commercial vehicle even beyond the date indicated on their credentials; and,
  • Truck drivers will not need to go through the physical exam and obtain a medical examiner’s certificate, which is required to hold a CDL license under non-emergency circumstances.

The waivers will be in effect until June 30, though FMCSA may elect to extend them further. They apply to all CDL holders, including operators of semis, box trucks, 18-wheelers, delivery trucks, large passenger vans, and many other commercial vehicles. As long as the operator’s license and medical certificate were current as of March 1, 2020, truck drivers will not be penalized for violating the law.

Charles Bryan Alred, an attorney in Tulsa, OK who focuses on truck accidents, expressed concern for the waiver program.

“This move is absolutely justified under the circumstances. We all know that the flow of essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be held back by something as simple as a licensing issue. However, I worry that waivers like this will also increase the potential for fatal and injury-causing truck crashes in Oklahoma.”

Mr. Alred noted that motorists must be extremely careful and vigilant while driving, as the primary threat stems from the medical certificate requirement. “A CDL holder with an expired license probably still retains the same skills, so the risk is NOT that a truck operator will be careless in operating the vehicle. The real issue is that drivers don’t need to go through the medical exam. If any underlying physical or mental health issues remain undiscovered because there’s no exam requirement, serious truck accidents can result.”

In Oklahoma, injured victims have legal options to recover compensation for their losses after a truck crash. Plus, surviving family members may have remedies if they lose a loved one in a fatal accident. Contact the Law office of Charles Bryan Alred P.C. today.