DON’T LOSE IT! - Medical Certification Required for CDL Drivers

Tanker Truck on the Highway
Tanker Truck on the Highway

Effective January 30, 2015, all drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) must have a current medical certification registered with the Texas Driver’s License Agency, Department of Motor Vehicles Division. That includes oilfield drivers working in the Eagle Ford Shale.

Original Deadline was January 30, 2014, and that has been extended to January 30, 2015

Download the Texas CDL Self-Certification Affidavit HERE

All CDL holders must provide information to their state driver’s license agency (SDLA) regarding the type of commercial motor vehicle operation they drive in or expect to drive in with their CDL. Drivers operating in certain types of commerce will be required to submit a current medical examiner’s certificate to their SDLA to obtain a “certified” medical status as part of their driving record. CDL holders required to have a ”certified” medical status who fail to provide and keep up-to-date their medical examiner’s certificate with their SDLA will become ”not-certified” and they may lose their CDL.

It is the drivers’ responsibility to keep their medical certification up to date. Drivers who do not submit a medical certification prior to it expiring will find that their CDL license will be downgraded to a non CDL license. They’ll lose their commercial motor vehicle operation privileges. In order to regain the CDL a driver will have to complete all written and skills tests all over again.

While registering the certificate is the responsibility of the individual driver, employers have a stake in the matter. They stand to lose valuable drivers who fail to comply with the regulation. So it’s in the employers’ interest to inform their drivers of the requirement. Follow up and make sure all commercial motor vehicle drivers have taken steps to keep their CDL in force.

Each state is handling the matter of medical certificates differently. For specific state-by-state requirements for drivers and information related to how a state is handling the Medical Certification requirements, and to determine whom to contact for additional information, click on the following link:{687D99D3-FFB5-4B76-BD6F-F5EF54728BE0

A Case Study

John Rojas, Education Specialist for Mike Byrnes and Assoc., Inc., relates his experience:

I personally renewed my CDL license at the local DMV in Corpus Christi. Fortunately I scheduled my visit perfectly because I was in and out of there in about 30 minutes. I had to complete a self-certification affidavit (CDL-7 form). The form is pretty simple to fill out and all you have to do is check what type commerce you operate in. This form will determine your eligibility to operate a commercial vehicle with or without a current medical certificate.

Since I renewed my license at my local DMV they relayed my information to the enforcement and compliance service for me.

How Eagle Ford Drivers Can Self-Certify

Self-certify by completing a CDL-7 form. You can do this via the Internet. Go to Complete the form online and save it in PDF format. Then email that PDF to

Need help deciding the type of commerce in which you plan to operate? Read the information for DOT medical certification requirements that you’ll find at .

You can also print out the CDL-7 form and mail it to:

Texas Department of Public Safety Enforcement and Compliance Service

Attn: CDL Section P.O. Box 4087 Austin, TX 78773-0320 Or you can fax it to 512-424-2002.

Depending on what type of commercial driving you do you may also need to get a medical examiner’s certificate. (All but one of the four Categories require one.) If your driver’s license is current but you have not submitted a copy of your current medical card to the enforcement and compliance service you can submit it yourself. Send a copy of your medical card by mail or fax, or email it. Note that documents submitted by email must be in PDF format, so you may need to scan that medical certificate and save it as a PDF.

Riding the Hours of Service “Merry Go Round”

Running Clock
Running Clock

In December of 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a final rule for hours of service (HOS) that is scheduled to go into effect on July 1st 2013 regardless of a pending lawsuit that was submitted by American Trucking Associations.

This is not the first time the FMCSA has changed HOS regulations and it’s not likely to be the last. How long drivers should work before taking a break is a bone of contention among several parties. Safety activists want shorter work periods and longer, more frequent rest breaks while those in the industry want to make the most of their time on the road. In an effort to arrive at the best solution, regulations have been changed only to be changed back.

The HOS “Merry Go Round” has been a thorn in trucking’s side for years and has cost the industry millions of dollars to update paperwork, policies and conduct training workshops so employees will be in compliance. As publishers of training materials, we at Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc., scramble to bring our publications current.

Opinions will vary about the latest HOS changes but in the end we all have to comply with the regulations in force.

Here’s a summary of the changes that go into effect July 1st, 2013:

Limitations on minimum "34-hour restarts"

  • Current rule states:
    • there are no limits on how many 34-hour restarts you can use in a 7 day work week.
    • The new rule states:
      • Must include two periods between 1 a.m. - 5 a.m. home terminal time.
      • May only be used once per week.

Rest breaks

  • Current rule states:
    • there are none except as limited by other rule provisions
    • The new rule states:
      • May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver's last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. [HM 397.5 mandatory "in attendance" time may be included in break if no other duties performed]

Here’s also a summary of the changes that went into effect February 27th, 2012:

On-duty time

  • Current rule states:
    • anytime a driver is in Commercial Motor Vehicle, except sleeper-berth.
    • The new rule states:
      • Does not include any time resting in a parked vehicle (also applies to passenger-carrying drivers). In a moving property-carrying CMV, does not include up to 2 hours in passenger seat immediately before or after 8 consecutive hours in sleeper-berth.


  • Current rule states:
    • "Egregious" hours of service violations not specifically defined.
    • The new rule states:
      • Driving (or allowing a driver to drive) more than 3 hours beyond the driving-time limit may be considered an egregious violation and subject to the maximum civil penalties. Also applies to passenger-carrying drivers.

Oilfield exemption

  • Current rule states:
    • "Waiting time" for certain drivers at oilfields (which is off-duty but does extend 14-hour duty period) must be recorded and available to FMCSA, but no method or details are specified for the record keeping.
    • The new rule states:
      • "Waiting time" for certain drivers at oilfields must be shown on logbook or electronic equivalent as off duty and identified by annotations in "remarks" or a separate line added to "grid."

Making It Work

Next month, in Part Two, we’ll take a look at how to manage the new hours of service regulations.

Quick Reference HOS Regulations


Property-Carrying CMV Drivers (Valid Until July 1, 2013)

Passenger-Carrying CMV Drivers

11-Hour Driving Limit

May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

10-Hour Driving Limit

May drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty.

14-Hour Limit

May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty,   following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the   14-hour period.

15-Hour On-Duty Limit

May not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive   hours off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.

60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit

May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may   restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours   off duty.

60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit

May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.

Sleeper Berth Provision

Drivers using the

sleeper berth provision

must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper   berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off   duty, or any combination of the two.

Sleeper Berth Provision

Drivers using a

sleeper berth

  must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth, and may split the   sleeper-berth time into two periods provided neither is less than 2 hours.

Defensive Driving 101 For Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers face many challenges every day. You’re under a lot of pressure to transport goods on time, without damage and without risking your own safety or the safety of those with whom you share the road. Getting around the Eagle Ford Shale region would be easy if commercial vehicles had their own highways to maneuver through but unfortunately you have to share the roadways with everyone else. You’re a trained and professional driver but the same can’t be said for other road users. This means that you have to drive defensively. Be alert and aware of your surrounding at all times.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep you and those around you safe:

Seeing The Road & Surroundings

To be a safe driver you need to know what’s going on all around your vehicle. Not looking properly is a major cause of accidents. Seeing ahead and watch for traffic. Be alert to accidents waiting to happen. Be aware of the effect that road conditions have on your vehicle’s performance.

Watch the sides and rear of your vehicle. Make sure your mirrors are adjusted to give you the best view. Pay attention to traffic, lane changes, turns, merges, tight maneuvers and understand what you see.

Be on the lookout for distracted drivers who are on the phone or moving around in their vehicle and not paying attention to the road. They could get themselves in trouble that could involve you. Identify developing problems quickly and be ready to respond to any potential hazards such as:

  • tight turns
  • vehicles stopped on the road or driving too slowly.

Communicating With Other Drivers

You certainly don’t want your actions to take other drivers by surprise and cause them to overreact. Communicating your presence efficiently keeps everyone safe. Signal your intentions promptly. Slow gradually. Avoid making sudden maneuvers.

Managing Space & Distance

To be a safe driver, you need space all around your vehicle. When things go wrong, space gives you time to think and to take action. To have space available when something goes wrong, you need to manage space. While this is true for all drivers, it is very important for large vehicles. They take up more space and they require much more space for stopping and turning so maintain a generous following distance. Be aware of the traffic to the sides and rear of your vehicle as well as in front.

Commercial vehicle drivers put in a lot of miles. Spending all that time on the road, it’s easy to fall into a routine and get complacent. Sometimes you have to make a point of being in the right frame of mind to drive. When you pretrip your vehicle and get ready to roll, pretrip yourself as well. Make sure you’re alert and paying attention. Don’t drive if you’re too fatigued or impaired to respond. Your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road depend on your knowledge and professionalism.

Training To Drive In The Eagle Ford - Part II

DMC Instructor & Student
DMC Instructor & Student

Truck drivers with commercial driver’s licenses are in high demand in the Eagle Ford Shale Play. However, getting that CDL license could get much more difficult in the near future. If you’re planning on getting, or offering, training, you need to keep an eye on the proposed regulations for entry level driver training. (ELDT).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding ELDT. If this becomes a final rule, all CDL training programs will have to meet those standards.

Last month we reviewed the long history of mandatory training standards proposals. What does the current NPRM mean for prospective drivers and for those in the training industry?

Must Complete Training

The proposed new rules will apply to

  • Any person applying to a State for an interstate CDL for the first time, upgrading to a Class A CDL from a Class B, or from an intrastate to an interstate CDL (including school bus drivers)
  • Any person not having completed the training who is reapplying for a CDL
  • After revocation for highway safety reasons or after a lapse in CDL status for 4 years.

Proposed Minimum Training Hours For Drivers

Note that the proposed rules require that a specific number of hours be spent in different aspects of training: in the classroom and behind the wheel.

BTW indicates time spent Behind the Wheel. The proposed hours do not include training for endorsements.

Training Programs Will Need Accreditation

[ic-r]The proposed regulations will require that training programs and institutions be accredited. The accrediting agency would have to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This is of course of vital concern to anyone who is now conducting training which will have to be accredited under the proposed rule.

The American Truck Associations raised the following concerns about the accreditation part of the proposal:

  • There is a small (and shrinking) number of organizations that will actually accredit truck driving schools
  • Length of the accreditation process
  • After 3 year phase-in period, there is no ability to accredit a new school
  • Accrediting body standards will restrict schools’ ability to advertise and potentially jeopardize guaranteed employment upon graduation.
  • Would there be exemption for in-house training by motor carriers doing their own? (conflicting with a similar long-combination vehicle rule)

Mandatory accreditation would likely raise the cost of training.

Public Comment Period

The NPRM process includes an invitation to the public to file comments. In 2007 over 700 sets of comments were filed in response to the NPRM. Rich Clemente, Transportation Specialist for the FMCSA Driver/Carrier Operations notes that “most commenters do not oppose driver training but rather how the NPRM would be implemented is the contentious issue.”

Key concerns among the comments filed have been:

  • the cost of implementing the proposed Rule
  • the lack of quantitative safety benefit data from training
  • the matter of accreditation
  • a preference for a performance-based vs. minimum hours training approach
  • the length and details of the curriculum
  • a separate motor coach curriculum would be necessary
  • the availability of training in certain geographic areas
  • the effect on the supply of new drivers
  • an intrastate exclusion.

Click on the linkto view a video of the January 7, 2013 listening session that was held to hear comments.

What’s Next For Drivers?

FMCSA has to provide the court a new rule by September 2014 for evaluation. Should the regulation go into effect as proposed, the changes to driver training will be dramatic.

Training to Drive Trucks in the Eagle Ford Shale

Tanker Truck on the Highway
Tanker Truck on the Highway

Truck drivers with commercial driver’s licenses are in high demand in the Eagle Ford Shale Play. However, getting that CDL license could get much more difficult in the near future. If you’re planning on getting, or offering, training, you need to keep an eye on the proposed regulations for entry level driver training (ELDT).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding ELDT. If this becomes a final rule, all CDL training programs will have to meet those standards.

Mandatory Standard Proposals Have a Long History

Mandatory standards for ELDT have been in several heated discussions for almost 38 years. Rich Clemente, Transportation Specialist for the FMCSA Driver/Carrier Operations summed up the highlights as follows::

1985 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued the “Model Curriculum for Training Tractor-Trailer Drivers” for voluntary adoption. The Model Curriculum was very well written and has been referenced in all discussions. (Our book, BUMPER TO BUMPER®, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations, follows this model curriculum.)

1986 The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 established the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program with tests for knowledge/skills, but required no specific training. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) further recommended, as part of new “national driver license program for commercial drivers” that “a requirement for formal training should be included in the prerequisites for obtaining a national license.”

1991 The Motor Carrier Act of 1991 – the Intermodal Surface Efficient Act (ISTEA) Section 4007(a) ruled that the DOT “shall commence a rulemaking proceeding on the need to require training of all entry level drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

1993 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) was published.

1996 A Federal Highway Safety 1995 report “Assessing the Adequacy of Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Training” was transmitted to Congress. It drew two major conclusions:

  • Of the 3 private sectors (heavy trucks; motor coaches, and school buses), none is “effectively providing adequate training.”
  • No evidence was found of a relationship between adequacy of the training the driver reported receiving and his/her frequency of accidents.

2003/2004 Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) NPRM (2003) & Final Rule (2004)

  • Writ of mandamus (2003) Public Citizen v. FMCSA for Agency to issue long overdue rulemakings – one was ELDT.
  • FMCSA published Final Rule (2004) intended to avoid duplication of topics in CDL testing; training provided through motor carrier. Topics covered included Driver Qualifications; Hours of Service; Driver Wellness; and Whistleblower Protection.

2005 Federal Court Decision: The U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit remanded the existing training rule to FMCSA for further consideration (Decided 12/2/05). The Rule was not vacated. The FMCSA “inexplicably ignores the Adequacy Report and the regulatory prescriptions contained in that report… adequate must include ‘on street hours’ of training.” The Agency’s action was thus “arbitrary and capricious” under Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

2007 ELDT Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) was published  with these key provisions:

  • New interstate CDL holders;
  • Hours-based training approach;
  • Mandated curriculum;
  • Accredited schools; and
  • 3-year implementation from Final Rule publication.

What Does this Mean to Potential CDL Drivers?

What does this mean to you as a prospective licensed commercial truck driver, or as a professional involved in truck driver training? We’ll explore that next month in ELDT, Part Two.