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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
18 April 2019

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 75 (Thursday, April 18, 2019)]
[Pages 16336-16338]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-07790]



Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0209]

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 11 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

[[Page 16337]]

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 March 9, 2019. The exemptions 
expire on March 9, 2021.

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., 
ET, 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. Public Participation

A. Viewing Documents and Comments

    To view comments, as well as any documents mentioned in this notice 
as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov. 
Insert the docket number, FMCSA-2018-0209, in the keyword box, and 
click ``Search.'' Next, click the ``Open Docket Folder'' button and 
choose the document to review. If you do not have access to the 
internet, you may view the docket online by visiting the Docket 
Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the DOT West 
Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 
a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

B. 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 

II. Background

    On February 6, 2019, FMCSA published a notice announcing receipt of 
applications from 11 individuals requesting an exemption from vision 
requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) and requested comments from the 
public (84 FR 2323). The public comment period ended on March 8, 2019, 
and three 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 drive 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 three comments in this proceeding. Daniel Schafer, 
of Patriot Transportation Services, LLC, submitted a comment describing 
the vision and CMV operation experience of an unnamed individual.
    Vicky Johnson, from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MN 
DPS), submitted two comments. The comments stated that MN DPS had no 
objections to FMCSA's decision to grant exemptions to Kirby L. Sundet 
and Henry J. Hughes.

IV. Basis for Exemption Determination

    Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption 
for up to five years 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. FMCSA grants 
exemptions from the FMCSRs for a two-year period to align with the 
maximum duration of a driver's medical certification.
    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 February 6, 2019, Federal 
Register notice (84 FR 2323) 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 11 
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, chorioretinal scar, complete loss of 
vision, exotropia, hamartoma, macular scar, prosthesis, and retinal 
scar. In most cases, their eye conditions were not recently developed. 
Six of the applicants were either born with their vision impairments or 
have had them since childhood. The five individuals that sustained 
their vision conditions as adults have had it for a range of 12 to 28 
years. Although each applicant has one eye that 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 5 to 41 years. In the past three years, 
no 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 that demonstrates 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

[[Page 16338]]

391.41(b)(10) is likely to achieve a level of safety equal to that 
existing without the exemption.

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 11 exemption applications, FMCSA 
exempts the following drivers from the vision requirement, 49 CFR 
391.41(b)(10), subject to the requirements cited above:

Manuel Gonzalez (IL)
Henry J. Hughes (MN)
Frederick L. McCurry (VA)
Luis M. Perez-Francisco (NJ)
Emmanuel A. Sepulveda (CA)
Martin Serrano (IL)
Kirby L. Sundet (MN)
Karl M. Vanderstucken (TX)
Nyrone Whyte (CT)
Bryon L. Wright (DE)
Bradford C. Zipse (WI)

    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: April 11, 2019.
Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2019-07790 Filed 4-17-19; 8:45 am]

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