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.

Don't Let Eagle Ford Drivers Be Put “Out-of-Service”

Drivers Daily Vehicle Inspection Report
Drivers Daily Vehicle Inspection Report

In trucking, “out-of-service” criteria define a set of physical conditions under which a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or commercial driver may be prohibited from operating. An out-of-service violation removes the driver and CMV from the roadway until the violation is corrected, which obviously means no work gets done and no one gets paid. In addition, out of service violations are sometimes punishable by fines.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is serious about getting unsafe trucks off our roads and penalizing drivers and owners who fail to follow the regulations. In recent years, there have been more trucking companies and passenger bus companies placed out of service than ever before. The MAP-21 highway funding law that went into effect doubled most fines for serious violations.

Sharing the Blame

New rules that went into effect Oct. 1, 2013, allows the agency to place an entire carrier out of service for operating vehicles “without or beyond the scope of registration,” according to the regulation, whereas previously only the unregistered vehicle itself could be placed out of service. Now both the carrier as well as the vehicle can be penalized. Carriers and drivers who fail to comply with the state and federal regulations can be more easily be prevented from operating.

You can imagine this puts an even greater emphasis on thorough vehicle inspections and preventive maintenance which would catch potential risks to safety before they can cause accidents. A diligently-performed daily vehicle inspection will disclose such potential problems as faulty brake systems and bald tires.

Out-of-service penalties can also be levied against drivers without proper licensing and training. A CMV driver without a CDL or one that has expired can be just a serious a safety liability as brakes that won’t hold or tires ready to blow.

Activity in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas has increased truck traffic tremendously and statistics show trucking related accidents are up 41 percent.

Keep Eagle Ford Roadways Safe

[ic-l]In November, 2013, Sergeant Villarreal with Corpus Christi Department of Public Safety (DPS) spoke at the National Association for Publicly Funded Schools Region 4 “Keeping Our Roadways Safe” Conference at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. Sergeant Villarreal indicated that the top three violations DPS officers see when pulling a commercial vehicle over in the Eagle Ford Shale are:

  1. Vehicle Inspections performed improperly or not at all
  2. Log Book Violations
  3. Driving a truck without a valid CDL license.

Keep Eagle Ford Drivers Trucking

Now that carriers as well as vehicles can be put out of service, here are five tips to help keep drivers “in service” and safely on the road:

  • Repair broken equipment.
  • Hire qualified drivers that have been properly trained with a valid CDL.
  • Have a strict pre/post trip vehicle inspection policy and hold drivers responsible for conducting and reporting them.
  • Have a no tolerance policy on faulty log book violations.
  • Conduct weekly or monthly safety meetings and reward employees for good audit results and discipline drivers that do not.

Must-Know Items for Truck Drivers in the Eagle Ford

Earlier this year we wrote a series of stories about the federal government’s efforts to regulate the training of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators. For 28 years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has attempted to standardize training requirements for entry level drivers (ELDT).

We Need Safer Roads, But...

DMC Instructor & Student
DMC Instructor & Student

There have been several heated conversations from trucking industry leaders, educators and safety advocates on what is a sufficient standard that will actually keep our roadways safer. Everyone agrees that implementing something to reduce accidents would be a good thing, but there are many opinions on how it should be done. Suggestions have ranged from enforcing stricter testing procedures by demonstrating performance based standards to an actual set number of hours that an individual must complete before obtaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL), as well as where and how the training can be performed.

On September 19th, 2013 the proposed federal rule was withdrawn because of over 700 comments sent to FMCSA stating several major concerns on how the ruling would negatively affect the industry. Protestors stated that the proposed ruling would do little to improve safety as requested by the federal courts.

The proposed rule may not have become law but the issue is far from dead. So here we go again. FMCSA is going back to the drawing board to research how safety can be measured among all drivers and what ruling can they implement to ensure the roadways will be safer.

Beyond the CDL Knowledge & Skills Test

[ic-r]The Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas has energized the Texas economy and provided many high paying jobs. The majority of them require a CDL. To get one you have to take knowledge and skills tests. To pass them requires a little preparation. Individuals seeking employment in the Eagle Ford are preparing for their CDL tests with training at truck driving schools at their local colleges, private for-profit schools or in company training programs. Some use self-guided study paired with borrowing Uncle John’s truck.

You may find a school or company offering “training” that seems quick and easy. You’ll be given copies of test questions from DPS, told to study them and get your CDL permit. Then you will be allowed to practice with a truck before scheduling your skills test at DPS. Sounds like a bargain and a fast track to starting your driving career but you should think twice. That is not training, and it could get you in trouble very quickly. You may find that inadequate training leads to ruining your driving record, wrecking your Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score and preventing employment with good carriers that have strict standards.

Getting a CDL is just a start. Licensed CMV drivers have a huge responsibility. There’s much more to becoming a professional driver than just studying the test questions, meeting the basic requirements and squeaking through a driving test. You might think you could learn anything else you need through trial and error, but those errors could be deadly to your fellow drivers, even to you.

FMCSA may have withdrawn the ELT proposed rule at this time but don't let that stop you from making sure you have all the information to succeed. Have respect for yourself and your career. Make an investment in thorough training. You want to be doing this for a long time.

Hours of Service “Merry Go Round”

Running Clock
Running Clock

On July 1, 2013, hours of service (HOS) regulations went into effect that had been published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as a final rule in December of 2011. The implementation was despite a lawsuit that was submitted by American Trucking Associations, a lawsuit that’s still pending.

Read the first part of this two part series in the article Riding the Hours of Service "Merry Go Round"

To recap, as of July 1, 2013 commercial drivers are only allowed one 34-hour restart per seven days. Further, they must take an additional three-minute break when driving for eight consecutive hours. This must include two periods between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. home terminal time and may only be used once per week.

We are midway through the month of living with the changed HOS regulations. The pros and cons of the changes are debated every day. Among the complaints are that the changes are costing the entire trucking industry millions of dollars to implement and further that they reduce drivers’ pay. Overdrive magazine reports that Dave Osiecki, of the American Trucking Associations, stated the rules for the break do not take into account the extra time it takes for drivers to find parking and get out of the truck. (Osiecki is ATA’s senior vice president for policy and regulatory affairs.)

Getting Some Official Guidance

On July 11, the FMCSA published revisions to guidance that had been first published in 1997. The revisions are intended to help drivers implement correctly the July 1 changes regarding taking mandatory breaks every eight hours on duty.

In short, the clarified guidance states conditions that must be met to log meal and other routine stops made during on-duty hours as off-duty break time:

  1. “The driver is relieved of all duty and responsibility for the care and custody of the vehicle, its accessories, and any cargo or passengers it may be carrying.
  2. During the stop, and for the duration of the stop, the driver must be at liberty to pursue activities of his/her own choosing.”

Living with the Law

[ic-r]Here are a few helpful tips to make sure you are operating within the guidelines of the new rule:

  • Time management is the key to your success. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Use your breaks wisely and efficiently to maximize your driving time.
  • Trip planning is critical in maximizing your driving time. Schedule your stops for fueling, dining, showering and resting at convenient locations that will have the least distractions that might take more of your time than you would like.
  • Vehicle inspections are very important. Do not overlook possible component failures while you’re in route to your delivery destinations. Take care of components showing signs of failure before leaving to avoid costly and timely repairs away from your home terminal.

The regulation are here to stay for now, well at least for now, so we have to do whatever we can to be efficient and safe on our roadways while operating within the rules.

Driving Safety Top Priority for Oil and Gas Industry - Op Ed

Hastings of TXOGA and Garcia of STEER
Hastings of TXOGA and Garcia of STEER

From Cuero to Carrizo Springs, advances in technology have led to an unprecedented leap in oil and natural gas production in South Texas. Oil and gas activity in the Eagle Ford has generated more than $61 billion in revenuein 2012 and 116,000 full-time jobs, according to research from the University of Texas at San Antonio. In Karnes County, employment in the mining sector, which is mostly oil and gas, jumped 260% and industry wages increased 320%. In Dimmit County, local sales tax revenues recently doubled, apparently thanks to increased oil and gas activity; this is a quadruple-digit increase over two years before.

Without a doubt, increased oil and gas production is turning once sleepy towns into bustling centers for commerce of all kinds. With this increase in commerce, comes an increase in road traffic. While the legislature is wisely considering ways to fund improvements and repairs for roads in South Texas and beyond, oil and gas companies across the board have taken meaningful and pro-active steps to encourage safety behind the wheel. Just as the oil and gas industry takes seriously its responsibility to maintain safe operations and job sites, the industry is committed to promoting safe driving.

Oil & Gas Industry Emphasizes Driving Safety

Beyond training and equipment, some companies have developed innovative incentive-based programs to help encourage safe driving practices that may include bonuses, raises, or prizes. The point of all of these programs is to establish, maintain and reinforce a focus on road safety for all oil and gas drivers.

Focus on driving safety isn’t a one-time occurrence. Oil and gas companies provide comprehensive and ongoing training for fleet drivers that incorporate both classroom instruction and practical hands-on training. Instructional programs are often followed by exams to certify that employees and contractors have met necessary standards. Some companies also conduct refresher driver training courses throughout the year and hold weekly safety meetings where they may discuss considerations for driving at night or in hazardous weather. Still others have instituted formal company-wide policies that prohibit cell phone use or texting while driving.

In addition to these courses and company policies, many Texas oil and gas operators utilize the cutting-edge technology to collect and process driver safety data from vehicles including speeding, swerving and hard brake incidents. And, as an added precaution, many also equip fleets with backup cameras, stability controls, anti-lock braking systems, trailer sway control and hands-free devices.

Road Safety Is A Collaborative Effort

Recognizing that keeping the roads safe must be a collaborative effort, the oil and natural gas industry worked closely with the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) to help develop and spread the word about TXDOT’s Be Safe. Drive Smart. campaign. The public education initiative presents common-sense but critical reminders to drivers to always drive at safe speeds; wear seatbelts; pass other vehicles carefully; always stop at red lights and stop signs; and, avoid distractions such as texting or cell phone use while driving.

When it comes to road safety, every driver on Texas highways and byways has a role to play.

The Texas Oil & Gas Association is also a proud partner in Safe Hand Texas, a public safety initiative from Texas Mutual Insurance, which provides educational resources and safety reminders for commercial drivers. Both programs are helping raise awareness about ways we can increase safety on our roads by pulling together public and private entities in a positive and collaborative manner.

As oil and gas opportunities draw people into communities across South Texas, there is no doubt the additional activity will mean an increase in cars and trucks on the road. But we must remember that with this increased economic good fortune, comes increased responsibility – something we all share. The Texas oil and gas industry is committed to powering the state forward, working with statewide and community partners, and keeping safety as our collective priority number one.

By Deb Hastings, Texas Oil & Gas Association and Omar Garcia, South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable

About TXOGA Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA) is a statewide trade association with approximately 5,000 members representing every facet of the Texas oil and gas industry including small independents and major producers. The membership of TXOGA represents over 90 percent of Texas’ crude oil and natural gas production, as well as refining capacity, and is responsible for the vast majority of the state’s pipelines. Founded in 1919, TXOGA is the oldest and largest group in the State representing petroleum interests and continues to serve as the only organization which embraces all segments of the industry.

About STEER The South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable (STEER) is the leading Eagle Ford Shale resource in the region and is the primary coordinator for communication and public advocacy surrounding the oil and natural gas industry in South Texas. With a focus on South Texas, STEER will serve as the bridge connecting the industry and legislature, academia and the communities throughout South Texas to ensure positive collaboration and communication surrounding the activities associated with the Eagle Ford Shale. For more information about STEER, visit

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