States struggle to meet new trucker safety mandate

By Monday, states are supposed to start gathering proof that interstate truck drivers are healthy enough to drive and send that information to a national database. But the Monday deadline ain’t working out so well.

Jeremy Hobson: Starting on Monday, there's going to be a big change in the world of commercial trucking. It's involving a federal mandate to keep truckers who might be prone to a heart attack or stroke off the roads.

Frank Morris from KCUR in Kansas City has the story.


Frank Morris: Commercial truckers have to pass a medical exam, and carry the paper with them all the time. But, some slip by with help from overly friendly doctors, or fraud.

Boyd Stephenson with the American Trucking Associations says new system will cure all that -- someday.

Boyd Stephenson: Really, the final vision is everyone wins. We've fought fraud, we've lowered cost. That's the final vision, that's not what's happening on Monday.

The feds have threatened to cut highway funding to states then if they don't comply with the mandate. But Monday's coming too soon.

Jerry Baker: Well that's a deadline, and Missouri will not be able to meet that deadline.

Jerry Baker with the Missouri Department of Transportation says first, Missouri has to change state law, and then do some major computer upgrades. Most states are behind on this. But Stephenson says come Monday, they'll all start collecting health certificates from truckers. Problem is, no two states will do it exactly the same way.

Stephenson: No one knows what's going on. You've got 51 different jurisdictions, dealing with the issue in 51 different ways. This is your nightmare.

Not for states, though. Turns out, highway funds are safe for now as long as states "make progress" towards the new system.

In Kansas City, I'm Frank Morris for Marketplace.

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