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Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision

Larry W. Minor
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
10 September 2018

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 175 (Monday, September 10, 2018)]
[Pages 45749-45750]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-19579]



Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0012]

Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of final disposition.


SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to exempt 12 individuals from the 
vision requirement in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs) to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate 
commerce. They are unable to meet the vision requirement in one eye for 
various reasons. The exemptions enable these individuals to operate 
CMVs in interstate commerce without meeting the vision requirement in 
one eye.

DATES: The exemptions were applicable on July 19, 2018. The exemptions 
expire on July 19, 2020.

Medical Programs Division, (202) 366-4001, fmcsamedical@dot.gov, FMCSA, 
Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W64-224, 
Washington, DC 20590-0001. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 
e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. If you have 
questions regarding viewing or submitting material to the docket, 
contact Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.


I. Electronic Access

    You may see all the comments online through the Federal Document 
Management System (FDMS) at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments, go to http://www.regulations.gov and/or Room W12-140 on the 
ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, 
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information 
the commenter provides, to http://www.regulations.gov, as described in 
the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed 
at http://www.dot.gov/privacy.

II. Background

    On June 18, 2018, FMCSA published a notice announcing receipt of 
applications from 12 individuals requesting an exemption from vision 
requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) and requested comments from the 
public (83 FR 28320). The public comment period ended on July 18, 2018, 
and two comments were received.
    FMCSA has evaluated the eligibility of these applicants and 
determined that granting the exemptions to these individuals would 
achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level that 
would be achieved by complying with the current regulation 49 CFR 
    The physical qualification standard for drivers regarding vision 
found in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) states that a person is physically 
qualified to driver a CMV if that person has distant visual acuity of 
at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or 
visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with 
corrective lenses, distant binocular acuity of a least 20/40 (Snellen) 
in both eyes with or without corrective lenses, field of vision of at 
least 70[deg] in the horizontal meridian in each eye, and the ability 
to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing red, 
green, and amber.

III. Discussion of Comments

    FMCSA received two comments in this proceeding. Lora Swindall 
submitted a comment of encouragement for the drivers listed in this 
notice. Christopher Craine submitted a comment asking for assistance 
applying for a medical exemption. This is outside the scope of the 
current announcement. Information regarding all medical exemptions, 
including application packages, is available on the FMCSA website at 

IV. Basis for Exemption Determination

    Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption 
from the vision standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) if the exemption is 
likely to achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would 
be achieved without the exemption. The exemption allows applicants to 
operate CMVs in interstate commerce.
    The Agency's decision regarding these exemption applications is 
based on medical reports about the applicants' vision as well as their 
driving records and experience driving with the vision deficiency. The 
qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant 
were stated and discussed in detail in the June 18, 2018, Federal 
Register notice (83 FR 28320) and will not be repeated in this notice.
    FMCSA recognizes that some drivers do not meet the vision 
requirement but have adapted their driving to accommodate their 
limitation and demonstrated their ability to drive safely. The 12 
exemption applicants listed in this notice are in this category. They 
are unable to meet the vision requirement in one eye for various 
reasons, including amblyopia, aphakia, chorioretinal scar, complete 
loss of vision, enucleation, macular scar, and retinal scarring. In 
most cases, their eye conditions were not recently developed. Eight of 
the applicants were either born with their vision impairments or have 
had them since childhood. The four individuals that sustained their 
vision conditions as adults have had it for a

[[Page 45750]]

range of 6 to 39 years. Although each applicant has one eye which does 
not meet the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), each has at 
least 20/40 corrected vision in the other eye, and in a doctor's 
opinion, has sufficient vision to perform all the tasks necessary to 
operate a CMV.
    Doctors' opinions are supported by the applicants' possession of a 
valid license to operate a CMV. By meeting State licensing 
requirements, the applicants demonstrated their ability to operate a 
CMV, with their limited vision in intrastate commerce, even though 
their vision disqualified them from driving in interstate commerce. We 
believe that the applicants' intrastate driving experience and history 
provide an adequate basis for predicting their ability to drive safely 
in interstate commerce. Intrastate driving, like interstate operations, 
involves substantial driving on highways on the interstate system and 
on other roads built to interstate standards. Moreover, driving in 
congested urban areas exposes the driver to more pedestrian and 
vehicular traffic than exists on interstate highways. Faster reaction 
to traffic and traffic signals is generally required because distances 
between them are more compact. These conditions tax visual capacity and 
driver response just as intensely as interstate driving conditions.
    The applicants in this notice have driven CMVs with their limited 
vision in careers ranging for 3 to 80 years. In the past three years, 
two drivers were involved in crashes, and no drivers were convicted of 
moving violations in CMVs. All the applicants achieved a record of 
safety while driving with their vision impairment, demonstrating the 
likelihood that they have adapted their driving skills to accommodate 
their condition. As the applicants' ample driving histories with their 
vision deficiencies are good predictors of future performance, FMCSA 
concludes their ability to drive safely can be projected into the 
    Consequently, FMCSA finds that in each case exempting these 
applicants from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) is 
likely to achieve a level of safety equal to that existing without the 

V. Conditions and Requirements

    The terms and conditions of the exemption are provided to the 
applicants in the exemption document and includes the following: (1) 
Each driver must be physically examined every year (a) by an 
ophthalmologist or optometrist who attests that the vision in the 
better eye continues to meet the standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) and 
(b) by a certified Medical Examiner who attests that the individual is 
otherwise physically qualified under 49 CFR 391.41; (2) each driver 
must provide a copy of the ophthalmologist's or optometrist's report to 
the Medical Examiner at the time of the annual medical examination; and 
(3) each driver must provide a copy of the annual medical certification 
to the employer for retention in the driver's qualification file, or 
keep a copy in his/her driver's qualification file if he/she is self-
employed. The driver must also have a copy of the exemption when 
driving, for presentation to a duly authorized Federal, State, or local 
enforcement official.

VI. Preemption

    During the period the exemption is in effect, no State shall 
enforce any law or regulation that conflicts with this exemption with 
respect to a person operating under the exemption.

VII. Conclusion

    Based upon its evaluation of the 12 exemption applications, FMCSA 
exempts the following drivers from the vision requirement, 49 CFR 
391.41(b)(10), subject to the requirements cited above:

Mark F. Besco (IA)
William T. Cummins (KY)
Aaron L. Fox (OH)
Ryan N. Goyne (AR)
Eric M. Kohrs (IL)
Michael P. Mazza (WA)
James L. Okonek (WI)
Jeffrey S. Rockhill (KS)
Travis D. Summerville (IL)
Lora D. Swindall (AL)
Francis J. Toth (PA)
Joseph A. Zaccaro (AL)

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, each exemption 
will be valid for two years from the effective date unless revoked 
earlier by FMCSA. The exemption will be revoked if the following 
occurs: (1) The person fails to comply with the terms and conditions of 
the exemption; (2) the exemption has resulted in a lower level of 
safety than was maintained prior to being granted; or (3) continuation 
of the exemption would not be consistent with the goals and objectives 
of 49 U.S.C. 31136 and 31315.

    Issued on: August 30, 2018.
Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2018-19579 Filed 9-7-18; 8:45 am]

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