Commercial Truck Drivers and Disqualifying Medical Conditions By Sean Burke on February 17, 2019

A truck driver behind the wheel on the roadLarge trucks pose a number of dangers to commuter vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Their sheer size and large blind spots present a number of hazards to others who share the road. These facts are why the Orange County, CA attorneys at the Law Offices of Sean M. Burke take auto accidents involving tractor-trailers and large commercial vehicles so seriously.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has taken a number of steps to ensure truck drivers are healthy and fit for their job. This is why there are certain medical conditions that disqualify people from driving a large truck. Let’s consider these medical problems and how they affect a person’s ability to drive safely.

A List of the Disqualifying Medical Conditions

Based on regulations from the FMCSA, the following medical conditions disqualify a person from driving a commercial truck:

  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Epilepsy
  • Insulin use

Each of these medical problems negatively impact a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Problems with seeing properly and hearing properly are obvious problems for people behind the wheel. With regard to epilepsy and insulin use, these restrictions ensure drivers do not suffer from a seizure or severe hypoglycemic episode while driving.

Can Commercial Drivers Apply for Medical Exemptions?


If a person experiences any of the above, they can potentially apply for exemptions in order to operate a commercial vehicle. To qualify for an exemption, truck drivers will need to provide medical records, driving records, employment information, and other documents.

We should also note that new rules that took effect last year apply to diabetics who use insulin. Diabetic drivers will not need to apply for exemptions if they can demonstrate that they have their diabetes under control and have a stable insulin routine.

Physical Exam by the Department of Transportation

In addition to medical records, prospective truck drivers will also need to undergo a physical examination as mandated by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This exam will ensure that the driver is well enough to drive their vehicle and to perform any additional duties associated with the operation of a tractor-trailer.

These DOT physical exams must be performed by an approved and licensed physician who appears in the FMCSA’s National Registry.

Poor Screening of Truck Drivers

Even if a truck driver is medically cleared to operate a tractor-trailer, it’s important that trucking companies carefully screen prospective employees. There could be warning signs in their medical history, driving record, and employment history that show them to be poor drivers.

If a trucking company hires a dangerous driver, the company could be held legally liable for accidents that could have been prevented with a better employee screening process.

Who Is at Fault in Accidents Caused by Medical Problems?

This depends on the nature of the collision and the circumstances surrounding the driver’s actions. If a truck driver’s medical problems contributed to a crash, it’s important to hold the driver accountable. If a trucking company did not screen the driver’s medical history or tried to cover up new medical issues, the trucking company can be held liable.

Our large truck accident lawyers will note all of the evidence related to the case and determine what factor or combination of factors contributed to the collision occurring.

Speak with Our Truck Collision Lawyers

To learn more about your legal options after a major collision with a commercial vehicle, be sure to contact our team of truck accident attorneys. The team at Burke Law is here to help. You can reach us by phone at (949) 438-4416.

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