The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation) is cracking down on Ontario cross-border commercial vehicle drivers holding non-commercial Class G licences who have not had pre-licensing and periodic commercial driver’s medical exams.
Starting in April 2016, if you drive a vehicle (standalone or in tandem/combination) that’s 10,001 lbs (4536 kg) or more across the border and do not meet these requirements, drivers may be found to be in violation of U.S. law, and could be subject to yet undetermined legal consequences such as being fined or having their vehicles placed out of service in the U.S. It is still unknown if driver, vehicle, and load insurance would be null and void where a driver has not complied with U.S. requirements.
In a recent notice sent to Ontario motor carriers, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation states:
“This letter is to inform you, as a company representative, that you may have drivers who operate vehicles defined as commercial vehicles in the United States and who hold a Class G driver’s licence. For these drivers, proof of medical fitness will be required effective April 1, 2016.”
As per the NAFTA Canada-U.S. commercial driver medical reciprocity agreement, Canadian licenced commercial drivers are qualified to operate in the US if they have proof of medical fitness in compliance with Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators’ National Safety Code commercial driver medical requirements (except where automatic U.S. medical disqualification remains in place for foreign drivers having certain medical conditions, including, but not limited to insulin dependent diabetes, significant hearing impairment, or a history of or medical diagnosis of epilepsy, even if such drivers are considered medically qualified to drive in Canada). In turn, the reciprocity agreement recognizes a Canadian commercial licence as proof that all required commercial driver medical examinations have been completed.
However, some Ontario drivers who operate commercial vehicles do not have commercial licences; they have Class G licences, and in Ontario, if you have a Class G licence, you are not required to get a commercial driver’s medical exam (pre-licensing or periodic). If you have a Class D licence in Ontario, you are only required to get a driver’s medical exam when you apply for a Class D licence, but there are no requirements for periodic medicals. Relating to trucking, drivers with a commercial licence (e.g. Class A) for any vehicles (standalone or in tandem/combination) that weigh at least 11,000 kg (24,200 lbs) are required by Ontario law to get pre-licensing and periodic medical exams. The periodic exams are completed at the time that they renew their driver’s licences. This varies by age.
However, the MTO letter states that in the US, the driver of a vehicle (standalone or in tandem/combination) that has a weight of 10,001 lbs or more (which would include Ontario commercial drivers who hold a Class G licence and potentially those with a Class D licence) must complete all required commercial driver medical examinations consistent with the National Safety Code indicating they are physically qualified to safely operate a commercial vehicle.
This means that drivers with Class G licences who are crossing the border must get a commercial driver medical examination completed by April 1, 2016, and comply with all periodic medical requirements thereafter. We don’t know yet how this requirement will be enforced, but the MTO letter states that all cross-border drivers with vehicles that weigh 10,001 lbs or more must keep their medical confirmation letter (proof of medical exam) in their possession when operating in the U.S.
In addition to Ontario clients, DriverCheck advises all Canadian motor carriers and businesses to check their province’s transportation standards to see if the US requirements apply to any of their vehicles and drivers.
How DriverCheck Can Help:
If you and your drivers are required to comply with U.S. law, send your drivers to us. DriverCheck has a network of clinics in Ontario and across Canada that provide domestic and transborder driver medical exams, including a walk-in transportation clinic in Kitchener, Ontario where no appointment is necessary. We’ll take care of the medicals, and all the paperwork!
If you have any questions about these requirements, or need help determining whether or not your drivers need to be examined, please reach out to us at 1-800-463-4310.