Do you know if your drivers are driving legally in the United States? If any of them hold a Canadian commercial driver's license that was issued with a medical waiver, they may not be, putting your company at risk in the case of an accident. And unless a driver tells you he or she is driving with a waiver, you may never know, because Canadian CDLs currently bear no waiver information, and driver abstracts may not show that information either.
Motor Coach Canada has been working to change that. As MCC recently reminded its members, Canada and the U.S. worked out a license reciprocity deal in 1999 that allowed most Canadian commercial vehicle drivers to drive in the U.S., and vice versa. Excepted drivers included insulin-using diabetics, the hearing impaired, epileptics and those who didn't meet the medical requirements of their country but had been granted a waiver to drive a bus or truck anyhow. The 1999 agreement also went on to say that within two years, both Canada and the U.S. would start displaying identifier codes on drivers' licenses and on driver records to identify commercial drivers who were not qualified to drive outside the borders of their own countries.
Those IDs have never been issued.
David Carroll, director of safety and maintenance for MCC, says the group expressed its concern to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, and the council listened. The CCMTA agreed they and the U.S. were about nine years overdue in implementing an ID system. In part because of various requests for delays in the U.S., the matter was in abeyance.
Last year, the U.S. finally announced waiver-dependent CDLs would start carrying a "V" mark in 2012. The CCMTA told MCC it would push for implementing a "W" on Canadian waiver licenses. Success will ultimately depend on the provinces and territories; Carroll suggests that operators contact their provincial ministry of transportation to urge action.
"We haven't heard of any Canadian driver who has been subject to investigation or litigation because of legal inability to drive in the United States, but it's something we need to clean up," says Carroll. "All it would take would be one incident, and if it was determined that the driver had a waiver and the operator didn't know about it, both the driver and the employer would be at risk."
In the meantime, Carroll has a suggestion for operators who want to give themselves a little extra liability protection: "Have drivers sign a declaration that they are not driving with a waiver, and that they will notify their employers immediately if their license becomes subject to a medical waiver."
Operators looking for more information can visit www.motorcoachcanada.com.
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