Driven Out of Work

May 17, 2017

To the Editor:

This is in response to Doris Peraria’s letter (“License Suspended, Feeling Like a Criminal,” 5/3).

The problems she had with the state Department of Transportation are very common when it comes to keeping an eye on our school bus drivers. The state tries very hard to see that the health of this distinguished group of people is top-notch. In doing so, over the years the state has lost its ability to administrate the individual driver’s abilities and health, etc. The physicals for your CDL are a good addition to licensing commercial drivers for safety reasons, but the state doesn’t seem to carefully look at each individual driver’s health profile and go from there.

Many a very good and devoted school bus driver has been denied his or her CDL for no real health reason at all. I am a case in point.

I retired from my medical practice in 1993 because of a severe latex allergy and this left me with time on my hands until my wife was ready to retire from her nursing profession. What could I do instead? Aha! To put myself through my schooling I had driven everything on wheels commercially, and the hours for driving a school bus were great, so why not?

I did what was needed to be done and received my CDL, and off I went to do a job I really ended up enjoying.

After seven years on the job and still looking forward to getting out of bed early to drive the children safely to where they needed to go, a letter arrived informing me that to retain my CDL I needed to have a heart catheterization immediately or lose it.

Letters from my family physician and two heart specialists wouldn’t persuade the DOT from wanting me to be catheterized. It seems that the medications that were on my list raised a red flag in their office, and the only solution was to have my heart catheterized. The medical board didn’t want to hear that my heart was healthy and well monitored. Letters from me were of no help at all. There was no way for me to talk directly to any of their physicians.

If I didn’t have the catheterization procedure done, my CDL was gone and I was out of a job. It just wasn’t worth the effort any longer, so I retired a second time, just a little early.

Later in life I found that when confronted with state bureaucratic problems, it is helpful to contact your state representatives and explain your problem.

We here in Southern Ocean County just happen to have a group of the greatest ones anywhere. Doris, it appears that you are still willing to pursue a solution to your problem, so why not give it a shot?

Dr. Rodger A. Zelles

Ship Bottom



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