Ask The Trucker

Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry

The Keys to Maximize Owner Operator Success and Profits


In an ideal world, carriers, shippers and freight brokers would all be working well together making sure that all are fairly compensated for the roles they play in moving freight across the country. Unfortunately that’s not what happens, and there are a variety of reasons.

Brooke Transportation Training Solutions, LLC

Brooke Transportation Training Solutions, LLC

FACT: Shippers, Freight Brokers and Carriers are needed to ship freight from point A to point B. There are many who would argue that only Shippers and Carriers are needed, however, many others strongly believe that customers and carriers would not have the immediate resources nor the manpower to keep things operating efficiently if not for honest and knowledgeable freight brokers:

  • 75% of the loads are moved by brokers.

In either case, it is essential that Carriers and Freight Brokers have a complete understanding of Trucking Logistics in order to be able to operate efficiently and ethically. If not, they could be setting themselves up for either vulnerability, blame, suspicion, deception, or even failure.

  • Below are what we believe are the major causes for either the limited success of Owner Operators or possible failure:

1) A lack of understanding of the Trucking Industry and Logistics (for both Carrier and Broker)
2) Lack of business skills to make educated decisions, thus compromising their ability to maximize profits.
3) Unethical business tactics by either shipper, carrier or broker.

For this article we will be addressing categories 1 and 2. As far as #3, one reason people operate an unethical business is due to the lack lack of business understanding, thus resulting in desperation, deceit and sometimes even fraud, but for now, I will leave that topic for others to discuss.

  • Roles and Responsibility

Carriers – It is the responsibility of the carriers to understand the synergy among brokers, shippers, and carriers. Carriers must understand their own business model as well as industry logistics itself, not just “avoiding” cheap freight, but understanding what constitutes a load as being classified as “cheap freight.” They must understand how to choose a broker who is honest, ethical, and will work for them. A Brokerage is basically a carriers sales force, by keeping them loaded vs. having to constantly seek loads on a regular basis, while they also are providing reliable service for their customer, the shipper.

Brokers – A good Broker does their homework and are professionals asking carriers what they need. They understand their lanes, their equipment, and become partners with them towards the same goal which is moving freight and focusing on a successful business relationship. Brokers need to focus on carrier shipper relationships and fine tune their industry knowledge and skills, negotiating fair deals for all involved in the transactions. Brokers and agents do not “take money away from carriers.” They provide a service for their shipping customers and the carriers involved in the logistics of the transaction.

Shippers – Lets face it, shippers are in business to make money and their goal is to move freight at the lowest possible price. It’s not their job to make sure the carrier is making a profit, that’s the carriers responsibility. It’s also not their responsibility to make sure that the broker is treating the carrier fairly, that’s the broker and carriers job. Another thing to keep in mind is that the role of a good Freight Broker is NOT to find the shipper the cheapest possible carrier to move their freight but rather to establish a relationship with a reliable carrier and to get the shippers to pay what the haul is actually worth.

  • With all this being said, what are the Solutions to:

1) Increasing Owner Operator profits and Success
2) Ensuring Freight Brokers and Agents maintain successful and profitable Customer Relationships for all those involved.


Going back to the early part of this article, stating the major causes for either limited success for Owner Operators or worse than that, failure, we confirm that the following 2 reasons are most responsible for this outcome.

1) A lack of understanding of the Trucking Industry and Logistics
2) The need for additional business skills, creating the ability to make better and more informed decisions, thus maximizing profits.

In order for Owner Operators to successfully run their business they must understand their business and the Logistics of the trucking industry. Many professional drivers seem to “blame” another segment of the industry for their inability to be successful. Too many believe that just having “years of experience” within trucking, will be sufficient when making the leap as a highly profitable Business Owner. For some it is enough, and they do well. For others it is not. And even for those who are already highly successful, additional education has been able to take them to the next level.

After researching and then speaking extensively with Jeff Roach of Brooke Transportation Training, we believe their Program is among the most complete, informative, and of the Highest Quality of Training available. Eighty Percent of their Schools’ students are Carriers and Owner Operators. Mr. Roaches’ passion for the trucking industry, includes his positive vision to see the success of others,  evident in his statements to us:

“I have been fortunate to meet drivers who attend my career school for freight brokers and agents. …I can honestly say the driver does all the work and gets the least amount of respect. I want every small carrier out there considering this business to know the truth.” Jeff Roach- Brooke Transportation Training

“My students are not anti broker – they are anti crooked people.”

A quote Mr Roach lives by from Zig Zigler:

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

For those of who would like to ensure your success and maximize profitability as an Owner Operator by extending your knowledge and abilities, we highly recommend Brooke Transportation Training.

Course Benefits for all segments of the Transportation Industry

  • Heighten your knowledge and thus your success as an owner operator by understanding in detail all aspects the Transportation Industry; Even if you are already successful, it will take you to the next level.
  • Choosing the right Freight Broker
  • Know what loads to accept and those to turn down.
  • Learn how to add a Freight brokerage to your trucking company
  • Become a Freight Broker or Freight Agent
  • Freight Brokers and Agent who would like to have an expanded understanding of the Freight Brokering industry and ultimately increase sales.

Partial List of Student Benefits

  • Choosing an ethical and legitimate broker
  • Becoming an ethical and legitimate broker
  • Becoming the kind of Carrier or Broker who is sought after
  • Understanding the trucking industry logistics in DETAIL:
    rating, dispatch, claims management, billing, AP, AR, Collections,Sales, Marketing, Legal, Staffing, MAP 21,
  • Trends effecting the industry- where it is today and where it’s going?
    Understanding current origin and destination rates
    Become educated about the market including the cargo, demand and availability

AVAILABLE On-site Courses via Brooke Transportation Training Solutions

  • Available online Freight Broker/ Agent Courses:
  • Learn the skills you need to be a successful Freight Broker/Agent. This is a growing industry of licensed individuals or corporations that help make a shipper and an authorized motor carrier successful in the transporting of freight. This online certificate program is offered in partnership with major colleges, universities, and other accredited education providers.Understand the process of freight brokering from start to finish
  • Have the tools needed to be successful as a freight broker or freight agent
  • Learn the basics of day-to-day operations of a brokerage or agency
  • Use techniques such as prospecting, sales and marketing, rating, and negotiations
  • Be able to manage a shipment from origin to destination
  • Gain valuable industry resources

Other Career Options

Brooke Transportation Training School, in partnership with ed2go, offers online open enrollment programs designed to provide the skills necessary to acquire professional level positions for many in-demand occupations:

Read the Student Testimonials  

Contact Jeff Roach

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Truckers’ call for higher wages gains momentum

 Saturday Night onAskTheTrucker 'Live' - Features Drivers Calling Higher Trucker Wages

Saturday Night on AskTheTrucker ‘Live’ – Featured Drivers Calling for Higher Truck Driver Wages

On Saturday July 18th, the AskTheTrucker “Live” broadcast took on a display of unity and passion from trucking industry professional drivers which had not been sensed in a long time. The topic was truck drivers wages. The call was for unity among drivers.

The Saturday night broadcast was an open forum format, which basically means the listening audience gets to bring up the discussions. The scheduled suggested topics to be covered were to range from 11 focused industry issues and concerns listed below.

As we opened up the lines and answered to the first caller, owner operator Jerry Fritz, the next 2 hours would not go beyond the first topic of driver wages. All following callers continued to remain on this topic. Mr. Fritz is a veteran driver and has an enormous knowledge of the transportation industry.

Transportation Veteran Jerry Fritz of American Overland Freight

Transportation Veteran Jerry Fritz of American Overland Freight

1)  Truck Driver Wages – Will Drivers be paid for ALL their time? There’s a bill for that!!

2) Changing trucking classification to “Skilled Labor?” What would that mean for truck drivers and for the trucking industry ?

3) What is The Motor Carrier Exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and how does it affect drivers?

4) Will trucking open the doors to those under 21 to drive interstate?

5) The ELD deadline is expected to be this September for the final rule and then enforced by 2017

6) A new rule for a Speed Limiter Proposal?

7) Longer/Heavier Trucks – Will this be coming down the pike?
How will this affect our infrastructure? Highway safety? Driver Wages? Driver Training?

8) Testing Hair for drugs instead of the standard Urine testing?

9) Doubling the Liability Insurance from 750,000 to 1.5 million? Is this really necessary?

10) And How about the FMCSA’s ELD committee establishing new CDL training standards? What will be done to improve standards?

11) And finally, Will CSA scores be removed from public view? The debate continues!
a) methodology b) accuracy to predict crashes

Discussions opened up with driver wages from the 70’s and 80’s and how they compare to today wages. As the show progressed it was determined that one of the main reasons (and there were others) that driver wages have remained stagnant for so long is partially due to the drivers themselves. Their acceptance and tolerance of believing that it’s just “the way things are” has created a mentality of disillusionment, hopelessness and at times victimization.

Another reason for low driver wages is the industry itself. One example is the fact that drivers are used as pawns in the negotiations of freight bidding wars. Mr Fritz explains this and much more as he opens up with his dialogue of “TRUCKING: Then and Now.”

As the show continued, other callers joined in, including Pat Hockaday of, who has also written in depth about driver wages and the solutions to better pay.

By the end of the show, it was unanimously agreed upon, that one main action would need to be taken in order to accomplish better wages for professional drivers.

Listen carefully to the replay:

Saturday Night AskTheTrucker ‘Live’ – Trucking Open Forum

Check Out Current Events Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Aubrey Allen Smith on BlogTalkRadio

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Attorney for Blacklisted Trucker wins case versus Mega Carrier



Attorney Paul Taylor of Truckers Justice Cente

Attorney Paul Taylor of Truckers Justice Center

“A win for the good guys.” says attorney Paul Taylor of Truckers Justice Center, as he shares his enthusiasm after winning yet another case for a professional driver, this time it was  trucker Brian Ford V. New Prime, Inc.

Judge Lystra Harris of the US Dept. of Labor found that New Prime, Inc illegally blacklisted  professional driver Brian Ford by putting an abandonment notation of his DAC Report.


Brian had become injured at work and was prescribed a narcotic pain killer. Prime’s affiliate, Success Leasing, terminated Brian’s lease after he informed them that he could not drive due to the medication. Prime then put an abandonment notation on Brian’s DAC Report.

Judge Harris ordered Prime to pay Mr. Ford back pay of $9,600 and $10,000 in mental pain, plus interest. Prime was also ordered to pay attorney fees and expenses to the firm Truckers Justice Center, representing Mr Ford in the case.
Prime was also ordered to post a copy of the decision at its facilities for 90 days.  Read more

 “It is also satisfying to obtain justice for a truck driver, particularly when a big trucking company like Prime does him dirty.”  Paul Taylor


United States Dept of Labor

United States Dept of Labor

Page 1  U.S. Department of Labor
Office of Administrative Law Judges
2 Executive Campus, Suite 450
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
(856) 486-3800 (856) 486 3806 (FAX)

 Issue Date: 13 July 2015 Case No.: 2014-STA-00025




Prosecuting Party




This case arises out of a complaint of retaliation filed pursuant to the employee protection provisions of Section 31105 of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (“STAA” or “the Act”), 49 U.S.C. § 31105, and its implementing regulations found at 29 C.F.R. Part 1978 (2013).

Brian Ford (“Complainant”) alleged that his former employer, New Prime, Inc. (“Respondent”) retaliated against him in November 2008, after he discovered that Respondent provided a report that he had abandoned a loaded vehicle to U.S. Investigation Services, Inc. (“USIS”) which resulted in an unfavorable notation on his Drive-A Check (“DAC”) Report.
Complainant alleged that the USIS report was made in response to his refusal to drive a commercial vehicle to Springfield, Missouri from South Carolina and his reporting of a back injury which impaired his ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle.
Page 22                                 ORDER

Based on the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

  1. Respondent shall pay to Complainant compensatory damages the sum of $9,600 in back pay, covering the period from July 1, 2009 to August 31, 2009
  2. Respondent shall pay Complainant prejudgment interest in the amount of $384 on the back pay award, in accordance with 26 U.S.C. § 6621(a)(2).
  3. Respondent shall pay Complainant post judgment interest on his back pay award, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 6621(a)(2). This interest shall compound quarterly until the company satisfies the back pay award in accordance with 26 U.S.C. § 6621(a)(2).
  4. Respondent shall pay to Complainant the sum of $10,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress.
    Read entire U.S. Department of Labor case No. 2014-STA-00025

Mr Taylor has recently started a series of YouTube videos, educating drivers about their rights.
These and other helpful videos can also be viewed on Trucking Social Media’s video Section

Paul Taylor”
Truckers Justice Center
900 W. 128th Street, Suite 100
Burnsville, Minnesota 55337
Tel. No. 651-454-5800

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Trucking Solutions Group provides free health screenings at GATS Health Pavilion




Trucking Solutions Group

As the trucking industry becomes more aware of the need for improved truck driver health, professional drivers themselves are taking it upon themselves to become more aware and accountable of their health and the inevitable consequences that can result from: poor eating habits and harmful dietary intake, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and maintaining optimal weight.

One group in particular who has stepped up to take the lead when addressing health issues of truck drivers is the Trucking Solutions Group (TSG), led by chairman Rick Ash.  This year they are taking it even one step further by creating the Landstar Health Pavilion at the Great American Trucking Trucking Show (GATS) taking place this Aug 27th-29th in Dallas Texas.

Great American Trucking Shoe

Great American Trucking Show Aug 27th-29th 2015

TSG and and Randall- Reilly ( Owners of GATS) are working closely to provide free health screenings for attendees of this years’ truck show.

Those attending the show will be able to check their height, weight, BMI (Body Mass Index), blood pressure, Glucose, Cholesterol and HDL and kidney function including a consult with medical professionals

In addition there will be diabetes education, nutritional screening, chiropractic nerve assessment, eye acuity testing and the ability to “Ask a Pharmacist”.

Also, for the fifth straight year the Trucking Solutions Group will be conducting its annual blood drive.

Trucking Solutions Group Blood Drive

Trucking Solutions Group Blood Drive

Make It Happen USA will also be joining TSG and the Health Pavilion, conducting their bone marrow donor registration drive.

For the first time at a major trucking show there will be a mobile mammogram unit to provide mammograms for those wishing to avail themselves of this valuable screening.



Make It Happen USA  stem-cell/bone marrow registry

Make It Happen USA
stem-cell/bone marrow registry

On May 13, 2015 the Trucking Solutions Group announced the creation of a driver led grassroots effort to raise money to fund mammograms for CDL holders attending this years’ Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Tx. who do not have insurance. The cost of each mammogram is $300 and the group is accepting donations of any denomination. Those desiring to donate can do so in two ways:




1) The group has created a fundraising page GATS Mammogram Fundraiser for the event through GoFundMe.

GATS Mammogram

Mammogram Can Be A Life Saver Courtesy

Those who desire to contribute to this humanitarian effort are asked to visit the page by clicking on the above links. There is no minimum donation, ALL donations are appreciated.
2) St. Christopher Fund – Mammogram
PO Box 30763
Knoxville, Tn. 37930

As time draws near, we anticipate sharing the Health Pavilion Schedule as it becomes available.

We look forward to seeing you at GATS and the Health Pavilion.


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Did FMCSA fail to notify Medical Examiners of NPRM- Diabetic Standard?



On May 4th the FMCSA  posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Qualifications of Drivers; Diabetes Standard, proposing to do away with the Diabetes Exemption Program.

Under the current regulation, a driver with insulin treated diabetes may not operate a CMV in interstate commerce unless he or she obtains an exemption from FMCSA.

When you first look at the proposed rule, it looks like a victory for professional drivers who have their ITDM (insulin treated diabetes mellitus) stable and under control.  As you read the NPRM closer however, it appears that details are missing, or at least vague to some degree, as described in a recent article by Dr Randolph Rosarion, certified medical examiner listed in the US DOT FMCSA National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners….

Dr Randolph Rosarion

Dr. Randolph Rosarion – Certified DOT Medical Examiner National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners

read here FMCSA NPR to amend certification of drivers using insulin: “sketchy” at best

Presently, the Diabetes exemption program requires drivers to wait 6 months after starting insulin before applying for an exemption. It also requires drivers to send in quarterly reports to the FMCSA from an endocrinologist on the status of diabetes management,  and to undergo an annual eye examination for retinopathy (a complication of diabetes). However, without an exemption process, the FMCSA is no longer responsible for monitoring these reports and is depending on the Certified Medical Examiner to “make the call” to issue a medical card. The issue is however, the ME will be depending on the CDL drivers treating clinician to send in the needed “documentation”, which does not clearly defined what those documents are in the NPRM.

Dr Rosarion proceeds to state in the above article,  “The burden will only now be shifted to the medical examiner, and probably will not necessarily be alleviated for the driver either, that is, if the treating clinician properly evaluates and medical examiner certifies accordingly.  Then we need to ask, once certified how do we enforce this entire new process in lieu of the current Diabetes Exemption Program, to ensure that the driver using insulin remains compliant?”

Elaine Papp of Health and Safety Works LLC- Former Division Chief of the Office of Medical Programs at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Elaine Papp- FormerDivision Chief of the Office of Medical Programs at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

In another recent article, Elaine Papp, former Division Chief of the Office of Medical Programs at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), recently stated
“FMCSA is not only proposing to eliminate the diabetes exemption program but is also eliminating all the prevention and safety requirements that accompanied the exemption program.”  Read more

Now, if this isn’t confusing and vague enough, it appears that the Certified Medical Examiners were possibly not notified by the FMCSA of the NPRM, this same rule which would put most of the burden on them( ME’s) when deciding if the driver with ITDM is indeed stable and well controlled enough to be certified.

When we asked Dr Rosarion on this last Saturday evenings AskTheTrucker “Live’ radio show, Pros and Cons of FMCSA Proposed Rule – Drivers with insulin dependent Diabetes, if he had received notice from the FMCSA of the NPRM, he said he had not, and then continued to say he found out about it by checking their website.

I don’t know about you, but I would think that the FMCSA would not only want their ME’s to know about the NPRM, but would want also their valuable input on the NPRM comment section.   Comments are due July 6th

In our opinion, if the Medical Examiners were not notified of the NPRM, a letter should be sent out to them.  Also, there should be an extension for those who want to submit comments to the website.

Listen to the replay as there were many other eye opening facts and questions that came up during the show.

Related Post  FMCSA proposes to do away with driver Diabetes Exemption Program

Check Out Current Events Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Aubrey Allen Smith on BlogTalkRadio

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FMCSA proposes to do away with driver Diabetes Exemption Program

Elaine Papp- founder of Health and Safety Works, LLC

Elaine Papp- founder of Health and Safety Works, LLC

The FMCSA has posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Qualifications of Drivers; Diabetes Standard, proposing to do away with the Diabetes Exemption Program. Although there are many drivers who feel this is a long overdue rule, others are concerned that the rule (the way it is written) would compromise the safety of the driver and the highways.



Dr Randolph Rosarion National Registry Certified DOT Medical Examiner-

Dr Randolph Rosarion- National Registry Certified DOT Medical Examiner-

Dr Randolph Rosarion, certified Medical Examiner in the US DOT FMCSA National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) and Elaine Papp, board certified occupational health nurse and founder of Health and Safety Works, LLC, will be our special guests  on AskTheTrucker ‘Live” Saturday 6/27/15  at 6:30 PM ET as they discuss the complex and unseen details of insulin dependent Diabetes mellitus and how it relates to the NPR and the professional driver.


FMCSA’s New Proposed Rule, amending insulin treated driver qualification standards, published, May 4th, in the Federal Register.

Qualifications of Drivers; Diabetes Standard Summary –
“FMCSA proposes to permit drivers with stable, well-controlled insulin-treated diabetes mellitus (ITDM) to be qualified to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. Currently, drivers with ITDM are prohibited from driving CMVs in interstate commerce unless they obtain an exemption from FMCSA…..”

Dr Rosarion and Ms. Papp have written articles regarding the NPR. A few can be read here:

“FMCSA’s Proposed Rule could Amend Driver Qualification Standards for Insulin Treated Diabetes” by Dr Randolph Rosarion
“Qualifications of Drivers” Diabetes Standard- FMCSA ‘s Notice of Proposed Rule Making” by Elaine Papp
“FMCSA NPR to amend certification of drivers using insulin: “sketchy” at best” by Dr. Randolph Rosarion

Both Dr Rosarion and Elaine Papp are Advisers for North American Trucking Alerts (NATA)

Join the heated discussion!  Saturday June 27th
6:30 PM ET
Pros and Cons of FMCSA Proposed Rule –
Drivers with insulin dependent Diabetes

Have questions about your Diabetes or the Proposed Rule?
Call in # 347-826-9170  Then click “1” on your keypad to join in the conversation

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Fighting CDL driver harassment, retaliation, and false DAC reporting

Attorney Paul Taylor

Attorney Paul Taylor of TruckerJusticeCenter

Many drivers have experienced, or are at the very least familiar with, employer retaliation via wrongful and often harmful false information reported to authorized agencies. It’s not an exaggeration to say that many a career has been ruined by these antics. The most common of all is the infamous DAC report.

Professional CDL drivers have agreed that even “subtle suggestions” of DAC or other negative reporting  is still used to maintain “control” of their driver employee.  Is there a solution to these behaviors? Can drivers fight back?  Yes they can. Below are just 2 examples of cases that were taken to court and then won. Both cases were won by Paul Taylor of Truckers Justice Center


Truck Driver Fights Back Against DAC Awarded $130,000

Not all false DAC reporting makes it to court as in the above two examples. Sometimes all it takes is to dispute or challenge the false allegations via the HireRight website.  As drivers have found out however, sometimes it’s not all that easy to contest false information that is reported.  Jon Stanek of Stanek Law Office, as just one of his trucker related services, assists drivers through his website FixMyDacReport

Attorney Jon Stanek of Stanek Law Office and FixMyDacReport

Attorney Jon Stanek of Stanek Law Office and FixMyDacReport

Both Paul Taylor and Jon Stanek will be our guests on AskTheTrucker “Live” Saturday June 13th 6PM ET to discuss many aspects of driver experienced retaliation, and more importantly, solutions. They will be taking calls and answering questions

Paul and Jon specialize in Trucker cases and have extensive experience in the courtroom and are dedicated to Trucking Employment Law, harassment, discrimination, credit reporting errors, wrongful termination, truck lease disputes,wage disputes…and more




STAA  whistleblower protection – Harmful information on DAC Reports
Listen through the above link, player below, or by phone

Check Out Legal Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Aubrey Allen Smith on BlogTalkRadio


Topics to be included in Discussion

  • Using STAA whistleblower protections to remove harmful information from DAC Reports Unauthorized pulls of DAC Reports
  • Abandonment and co. policy violation notations on DAC Reports
  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Understanding your rights
  • Investigation and Reinvestigation process; The No Parroting Rule
  • Understanding Damages made- The difference between Negligent vs. Willful

Have you had an experience with retaliation? Did it go on your DAC report and cause extensive problems?
Need to ask a question TONIGHT?  Paul and Jon will be taking calls. 347-826-9170



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FMCSA NPR to amend certification of drivers using insulin: “sketchy” at best



The FMCSA NPR to amend the certification of drivers using insulin: “sketchy” at best

Dr Randolph Rosarion

Dr. Randolph Rosarion – certified medical examiner listed in the US DOT FMCSA National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners

Originally posted By on ( 1 Comment )

There is a reason why the PDR (Physician Desk Reference) is so bulky, listing every possible side effect for every drug from aspirin to anti-cancer medications.  The rumor is, as I was told in medical school is that the PDR is written by lawyers or “legal” minds, and not by doctors.  Whether true or not the irony is clear, and if true, it seems quite reasonable (to me anyway) why it would be more valuable to have it authored by legal persons rather than medical.

Nonetheless, the PDR is no doubt a valuable reference tool, not unlike FMCSA’s Medical Examiner’s Handbook, which is currently in defunct mode but soon to re-emerge, as we are promised.   If the previous FMCSA memorandum to medical examiners and training organization with regards to the obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) recommendations, and this new proposed rule to amend the regulations regarding insulin treated diabetes are any indications, I can only surmise that the FMCSA like it’s own Handbook is not so much as re-inventing itself but changing it’s look, putting on a new outfit so to speak, but in the process drastically altering the way commercial drivers are evaluated and certified.  Is this FMCSA “new look” just a way to appease lawmakers and stake holders, who no doubt put tremendous pressure on the agency, or a sincere attempt to abridge it’s regulatory machinery and cut through the bureaucratic red tape for the betterment of the driving professional?  In it’s mission statement the FMCSA succinctly and purposefully states:

Our primary mission is to prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.

Medical professionals who decide to perform commercial driver medical evaluations are required to follow certain qualification standards in the evaluation of commercial drivers to insure public safety, and must now pass an examination to become certified through the recently established National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME).  The NRCME was mandated by congress and went into effect last year on May 21, 2014.  The hope with the creation of the NRCME was to further improve the driver certification process by using only trained and certified medical examiners, who apply FMCSA driver medical standards in evaluating commercial drivers to improve public safety and decrease fraud, and directly link the National Registry with state and federal driver databases.

Well then I ask, is the goal of ensuring public safety, still achievable or even palpable with the new proposed rule “as written”?  The fact that the current Diabetes Exemption Program will be dissolved in the process is really not the issue here.  As a lot of us see it, the main setback here is that in it’s current state or language, the proposed rule actually fails to meet the standards already established by the FMCSA itself for the Diabetes Exemption Program.  So doing away with the Diabetes Exemption Program is not the problem here.  We can do away with the exemption program, but with the current proposed rule as written if passed, we will not maintain the same level of safety.

Comment by July 6th 2015 FMCSA NPR  Qualifications of Drivers; Diabetes Standard

In reality, regardless of whether the driver goes through the FMCSA’s current Diabetes Exemption Program, or is evaluated and certified entirely by the medical examiner interacting with the treating clinician or primary care giver as suggested in the new rule, the fact is, it remains an exemption process.  The burden will only now be shifted to the medical examiner, and probably will not necessarily be alleviated for the driver either, that is, if the treating clinician properly evaluates and medical examiner certifies accordingly.  Then we need to ask, once certified how do we enforce this entire new process in lieu of the current Diabetes Exemption Program, to ensure that the driver using insulin remains compliant?

If you remember Johnny Depp’s movie “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, I can certainly ask the same of the FMCSA.  What’s Eating the FMCSA?, because a lot seems afoul with the new rule.  But to be fair, the FMCSA does rely on medical expert opinion from the Medical Review Board (MRB), the Medical Expert Panel (MEP), as well as the Office of Medical Programs within the FMCSA itself to help with the interpretation and application of it’s medical regulations and recommendations.  The FMCSA ultimately decides what recommendations made to the agency by it’s medical experts to accept.  It publishes notice of proposed rules such as the current rule at hand and submits it for a period of public comment.  Why does the FMCSA need such a wide body of medical experts to help it understand medical issues like insulin and diabetes and many other medical conditions?  The simple answer is it’s complicated, both understanding the medicine and to properly apply it through the legal system without over burdening drivers, and simultaneously maintaining public safety.

So I ask again, What’s eating Gilbert Grape?  What’s really eating the FMCSA?  Less I feign an answer, I’m afraid that what ever I say now would just be speculation, so your guess is as good as mine.  However, as a medical professional, I and many others see a lot wrong “medically” with the new proposed rule as written, and I hope to have some of those colleagues contribute their thoughts to the next post.

Memorial Day is here.  To be continued…..

Related Post
“Qualifications of Drivers” Diabetes Standard- FMCSA ‘s Notice of Proposed Rule Making


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Driver sees wages synonymous with trucking safety


Truck driver wagesBy Allen Smith

Low wages, driver shortage, high driver turnover, low retention, poor recruiting practices, cheap freight, working without pay, low hiring standards and unskilled labor are just a few of the phrases you will hear included in any discussion regarding professional CDL driver wages.

You will find many articles describing the facts regarding the problems encompassing the causes of stagnant truck driver pay, whether it be the fact that wages have not increased in decades, the unfair pay structure, the classification of drivers, or even the fact drivers work many hours without pay.

There are also those who write and offer suggestions about ways to address and resolve the dormant driver wage situation. Unfortunately, most who feel compelled to write or share their thoughts and ideas about wage solutions, or even mention that there is an unfair balance between drivers wages and industry profits, comes from the driver population itself.

That is not to say that there has not been a recent voice made by carriers claiming they are addressing the wage issue by raising driver pay which in most cases means increasing the cents per mile rate (CPM). Of course this most recent announcement by carriers was actually initiated by the anticipation of a driver shortage as many of the younger generation needed to fill the seats of veterans retiring, do not find the trucking industry an “appealing career” as discussed in a previous post: Truck Driver Retention and the Generation Gap.

But just how significant are these current driver wage increases? Keep in mind, even if a motor carrier claims they are raising their driver pay .03 CPM, that is only an increase of $60.00 per week, based on a 2,000 mile weekly scale.

Pat Hockaday-Truckers United

Veteran truck driver Pat Hockaday introduces an interesting and well-calculated new thought to the ongoing CDL wage discussion. Mr. Hockaday is the founder of and has spent a great deal of time contemplating the best solution for a fair increase of drivers wages, including the most practical method in which they should be designed. The details of his observations and methods can all be found in his writings known as “JoJo’s Paper.”

Below is a post that Pat posted on his FaceBook wall and has allowed us to share it here as well. I believe that this reading, along with JoJo’s paper, should motivate and inspire dialogue between all drivers, not arguing or criticizing one another, but rather sparking thoughts and ideas for real driver solutions:

It’s been a Long Day. Before I go to bed I am very happy to announce that in it’s new and improved format is up and running! Thank’s Danny, I know that You have worked very hard to make it happen!”

“As an individual with an opinion and a possible solution that I believe will solve many problems within this industry, I hope to meet more like minded individuals that are willing to work towards common goals to turn this industry around from the small guys perspective.”

“I believe this can be done only if we are willing to work towards common goals.
SAFETY; Why are we having regulations shoved down our throats in an attempt to force us into compliance? Hasn’t anyone figured out that Drivers are only trying to earn a living and to do so they must bend or twist the law?”

“Safety comes at a price! Drivers are paying that price in lower earnings due to their time needed to earn being regulated. Drivers are paid piece work wages and when their time need to produce pieces is regulated away they earn less and must become creative in order to sustain themselves and their families!”

“Are these regulations creating safer or more dangerous roadways for the public? Is it possible that if the Drivers were paid to be safe instead of being forced to earn less they would have no need to act in ways deemed unsafe?”


“We O/O’s and small carriers have to compete against mega carriers that have, due to their size, set the labor rates for this industry. Intentionally or not, they have influenced freight rates to remain low and to stagnate. One can not raise their rate to pay better because that would give the others a competitive edge! Is it possible that if they all had to pay a salary based on a minimum wage standard they would all save money and maintain their competitive edge and their bottom line?”

“The megas and the FMCSA have been working on their agenda to have it their way without considering Us small Guys! Isn’t it up to us to let it be known what we need?”

“In it’s simplest form it all boils down to money. You and I can do whatever is required, we can break the law in order to earn. Why can’t we influence laws that enable Us to Earn without breaking the law?”

“In JoJo’s Paper I have laid out a concept that accomplishes the Goal of Safety by paying the Co OTR Drivers a living wage. I put this concept out for all to consider and discuss. Maybe a better idea will come out of it or maybe it can be improved upon. I only know that We little guys have been fussing and fighting among ourselves while they are deciding how it is going to be. It’s time to start working together like a team so that we can win or lose as a team.”

“It’s up to you what your future will bring, WHY are YOU letting THEM decide for YOU?
Let’s start talking so that we may find solutions where they can’t, right under their noses!”

Recently Mr. Hockaday was a guest on AskTheTrucker “LIVE” and oddly enough, it was a health show about the relationship and affects between CDL wages and truck driver health. You can catch the full broadcast below:

As professional drivers, I believe it is important to be able to open dialogue by sharing all of our experience, knowledge, thoughts, ideas, opinions and so-forth, which can ultimately lead to an agreed upon and in many cases, a final solution to an industry problem.

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Telemedicine offers truckers access to medical care 24/7

DocOnCall24/7 for Truckers

DocOnCall24/7 for Truckers

For many, the trucking lifestyle is difficult enough, but when a driver is faced with an illness or sickness on the road, the difficulties can become much more serious.

I remember years back when I became extremely ill while miles away from home and my primary doctor’s care. As we often do while living life on the road, I continued to ignore my symptoms, believing that I would just “ride it out” and get well on my own.

As the illness worsened, I was finally forced to pull into a hospital parking lot in Cleveland, Tennessee where I was immediately wheeled into the ER. I would remain there for nearly two weeks as I overcame blood poisoning and discover that I had only been three hours away from becoming a fatality.

Back then, there were no Smartphones, WiFi, laptops or video communications of any kind and when a driver faced unknown medical symptoms while thousands of miles away from home, life on the road could become very unpleasant and dangerous to say the least.

In today’s technological advances, the ability for professional truck drivers to have access to a doctor’s care is available 365 days and 24/7. DocOnCall24/7 is specifically designed with the truckers’ lifestyle in mind, offering immediate access to licensed physicians at anytime via phone, email or video conference.

For only $19.99 per month, truck drivers and their families will receive medical services offering Telehealth, Vision, Dental, Diabetic, Pharmacy, Counseling, Lab Testing, MRI and CT Scans, Medical Health Advisory and more. Services are available to members as often as needed and there are no health restrictions.

Everyone is encouraged to sign up for their Free Prescription card on the website, membership is not required.

DocOnCall24/7 Prescription Discount Cards

DocOnCall24/7 Prescription Discount Cards

There are also FREE Prescription Discount Cards for the iPhone and Android
smartphones. Use the Group NBRx9848A

With this app you can receive discounts at all major pharmacies, check for the lowest
cost for the medication, and find  the nearest pharmacy.


 Android App  Download

iPhone App     Download

In her continuing Truck Driver Health series, Donna will discuss the services and benefits further with DocOnCall24/7 on Ask The Trucker “Live”. The broadcast: DocOnCall24/7 offers truckers remote access to certified doctors, will air Thursday, May 28th, 2015 at 6:00 PM Eastern Time.

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