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Qualification of Drivers; Application for Exemptions; Hearing

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Qualification of Drivers; Application for Exemptions; Hearing

Larry W. Minor
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
September 21, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 182 (Monday, September 21, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 57041-57043]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-23596]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2014-0383]


Qualification of Drivers; Application for Exemptions; Hearing

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

ACTION: Notice of final disposition.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to grant requests from 30 
individuals for exemptions from the Agency's physical qualifications 
standard concerning hearing for interstate drivers. The current 
regulation prohibits hearing impaired individuals from operating CMVs 
in interstate commerce. After notice and opportunity for public 
comment, the Agency concluded that granting exemptions for these 
drivers to operate property-carrying CMVs will provide a level of 
safety that is equivalent to or greater than the level of safety 
maintained without the exemptions. The exemptions are valid for a 2-
year period and may be renewed, and the exemptions preempt State laws 
and regulations.

DATES: The exemptions are effective September 21, 2015. The exemptions 
expire on September 21, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charles A. Horan, III, Director, 
Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle Safety, (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 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except 
Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Electronic Access

    You may see all the comments online through the Federal Document 
Management System (FDMS) at: www.regulations.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments, go to 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 www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 
www.dot.gov/privacy.

B. Background

    Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption 
from the safety regulations for a 2-year period if it finds ``such 
exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to 
or greater than the level that would be achieved absent such 
exemption.'' The statute also allows the Agency to renew exemptions at 
the end of the 2-year period. The current provisions of the FMCSRs 
concerning hearing state that a person is physically qualified to drive 
a CMV if that person:

    First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at 
not less than 5 feet with or without the use of a hearing aid or, if 
tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average 
hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500 Hz, 
1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the 
audiometric device is calibrated to American National Standard 
(formerly ASA Standard) Z24.5--1951.

49 CFR 391.41(b)(11). This standard was adopted in 1970, with a 
revision in 1971 to allow drivers to be qualified under this standard 
while wearing a hearing aid, 35 FR 6458, 6463 (April 22, 1970) and 36 
FR 12857 (July 3, 1971).
    FMCSA grants 30 individuals an exemption from Sec.  391.41(b)(11) 
concerning hearing to enable them to operate property-carrying CMVs in 
interstate commerce for a 2-year period. The Agency's decision on these 
exemption applications is based on the current medical literature and 
information and the ``Executive Summary on Hearing, Vestibular Function 
and Commercial Motor Driving Safety'' (the 2008 Evidence Report) 
presented to FMCSA on August 26, 2008. The evidence report reached two 
conclusions regarding the matter of hearing loss and CMV driver safety: 
(1) No studies that examined the relationship between hearing loss and 
crash risk exclusively among CMV drivers were identified; and (2) 
evidence from studies of the private driver license holder population 
does not support the contention that individuals with hearing 
impairment are at an increased risk for a crash. In addition, the 
Agency reviewed each applicant's driving record found in the CDLIS,\1\ 
for CDL holders, and inspections recorded in MCMIS.\2\ For non-CDL 
holders, the Agency reviewed the driving records from the State 
licensing agency. Each applicant's record demonstrated a safe driving 
history. The Agency believes the drivers covered by the exemptions do 
not pose a risk to public safety.
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    \1\ Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) is an 
information system that allows the exchange of commercial driver 
licensing information among all the States. CDLIS includes the 
databases of 51 licensing jurisdictions and the CDLIS Central Site, 
all connected by a telecommunications network.
    \2\ Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) is an 
information system that captures data from field offices through 
SAFETYNET, CAPRI, and other sources. It is a source for FMCSA 
inspection, crash, compliance review, safety audit, and registration 
data.
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C. Comments

    On April 7, 2015, FMCSA published a notice of receipt of exemption

[[Page 57042]]

applications and requested public comment on 30 individuals (FR 80 
18697; Docket number FMCSA-2015-07909. The comment period ended on May 
7, 2015. In response to this notice, nine comments were received 
expressing safety concerns for the far reaching ramifications to the 
commercial driving industry of allowing deaf drivers to test, train 
and/or drive commercially. Some of these comments were addressed in a 
previous notice. Additionally they expressed concern for the process by 
which exemptions are granted from parts of 49 CFR 391.41, the increased 
volume of exemptions, and the need to rely on scientific support as a 
basis for granting the exemptions. FMCSA acknowledges the stakeholder's 
concerns and may consider the initial steps to revising the physical 
qualification standards through a formal rulemaking process.

D. Exemptions Granted

    Following individualized assessments of the exemption applications, 
FMCSA grants exemptions from 49 CFR 391.41(b)(11) to 30 individuals. 
Under current FMCSA regulations, all of the 30 drivers receiving 
exemptions from 49 CFR 391.41(b)(11) would have been considered 
physically qualified to drive a CMV in interstate commerce except that 
they do not meet the hearing requirement. FMCSA has determined that the 
following 30 applicants should be granted an exemption:

Neal Everett Boatman, Jr.

    Mr. Boatman, 37, holds an operator's license in Arizona.

Herbert Dean Crowe

    Mr. Crowe, 50, holds an operator's license in Missouri.

David Keith Cannon

    Mr. Cannon, 47, holds an operator's license in Missouri.

Bryant Cater

    Mr. Cater, 54, holds a Class A commercial driver's license (CDL) in 
Tennessee.

Frankye D. Crews

    Ms. Crews, 44, holds an operator's license in Florida.

Justin Craig Cribb

    Mr. Cribb, 36, holds an operator's license in South Carolina.

William Reeder Darnell

    Mr. Darnell, 40, holds a Class A commercial driver's license (CDL) 
in Arizona.

Mark Dickson

    Mr. Dickson, 55, holds an operator's license in Texas.

Kelly Gene Eller

    Mr. Eller, 50, holds an operator's license in North Carolina.

Elliot David Fellows

    Mr. Fellows, 22, holds an operator's license in New York.

David H. Grady

    Mr. Grady, 46, holds a Class B commercial driver's license (CDL) in 
Colorado.

Alissa Haselhorst

    Ms. Haselhorst, 27, holds an operator's license in Nebraska.

Nathan John Hill

    Mr. Hill, 31, holds an operator's license in Georgia.

Jason R. Gensler

    Mr. Gensler, 36, holds an operator's license in Ohio.

Thomas P. Lipyanic, Jr.

    Mr. Lipyanic, 49, holds a Class A commercial driver's license (CDL) 
in Pennsylvania.

Brian L. Lloyd

    Mr. Lloyd, 41, holds an operator's license in Ohio.

Kelsey Rae Maginity

    Ms. Maginity, 23, holds an operator's license in Iowa.

Donald B. Malley

    Mr. Malley, 60, holds a Class A commercial driver's license (CDL) 
in Missouri.

Courtney Maloney

    Ms. Maloney, 26, holds an operator's license in New York.

Amy Elizabeth Marcus

    Ms. Marcus, 42, holds an operator's license in Michigan.

Jonython A. Mason

    Mr. Mason, 33, holds an operator's license in California.

Scott Matchett

    Mr. Matchett, 32, holds an operator's license in New York.

Kathy Ann Meadows

    Ms. Meadows, 57, holds a Class A commercial driver's license (CDL) 
in Georgia.

Devin Jamal Moffett

    Mr. Moffett, 23, holds an operator's license in Georgia.

Anthony Joseph Saive

    Mr. Saive, 29, holds a Class B commercial driver's license (CDL) in 
Ohio.

David W. Shores

    Mr. Shores, 47, holds a Class A commercial driver's license (CDL) 
in North Carolina.

Jonathan P. Veach

    Mr. Veach, 32, holds an operator's license in Illinois.

Michael Whitman

    Mr. Whitman, 39, holds an operator's license in New Jersey.

Richard E. Whittaker

    Mr. Whittaker, 44, holds a Chauffeur's license in Indiana.

Brian David Whittington

    Mr. Whittington, 48, holds a Class A commercial driver's license 
(CDL) in Michigan.

Basis for Exemption

    Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption 
from the hearing standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(11) if the exemption is 
likely to achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would 
be achieved without the exemption. With the exemption, applicants can 
drive in interstate commerce. Thus, the Agency's analysis focuses on 
whether an equal or greater level of safety is likely to be achieved by 
permitting each of these drivers to drive in interstate commerce as 
opposed to restricting him or her to driving in intrastate commerce. 
The driver must comply with the terms and conditions of the exemption. 
This includes reporting any crashes or accidents as defined in 49 CFR 
390.5 and reporting all citations and convictions for disqualifying 
offenses under 49 CFR part 383 and 49 CFR 391.

Conclusion

    The Agency is granting exemptions from the hearing standard, 49 CFR 
391.41(b)(11), to 30 individuals based on an evaluation of each 
driver's safety experience. Safety analysis of information relating to 
these 30 applicants meets the burden of showing that granting the 
exemptions would achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to or 
greater than the level that would be achieved without the exemption. In 
accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315, each exemption will be valid for 2 
years from the effective date with annual recertification required 
unless revoked earlier by FMCSA. The exemption will be revoked if the

[[Page 57043]]

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.
    FMCSA exempts the following 30 drivers for a period of 2 years from 
the physical qualification standard concerning hearing: Neal Everett 
Boatman, Jr. (AZ); Herbert Dean Crowe (MO); David Keith Cannon (MO); 
Bryant Cater (TN); Frankye D. Crews (FL); Justin Craig Cribb (SC); 
William Reeder Darnell (AZ); Mark Dickson (TX); Kelly Gene Eller (NC); 
Elliot David Fellows (NY); David H. Grady (CO); Alissa Haselhorst (NE); 
Nathan John Hill (GA); Jason R. Gensler (OH); Thomas P. Lipyanic, Jr. 
(PA); Brian L. Lloyd (OH); Kelsey Rae Maginity (IA); Donald B. Malley 
(MO); Courtney Maloney (NY); Amy Elizabeth Marcus (MI); Jonython A. 
Mason (CA); Scott Matchett (NY); Kathy Ann Meadows (GA); Devin Jamal 
Moffett (GA); Anthony Joseph Saive (OH); David W. Shores (NC); Jonathan 
P. Veach (IL); Michael Whitman (NJ); Richard E. Whittaker (IN); amd 
Brian David Whittington (MI).

    Issued on: September 8, 2015.
Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2015-23596 Filed 9-18-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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