Qualifications of Drivers; Vision Standard

CourtFederal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Citation86 FR 2344
Published date12 January 2021
Record Number2020-28848
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Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 7 / Tuesday, January 12, 2021 / Proposed Rules
47 CFR Part 95
Personal Radio Services.
Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene Dortch,
Secretary.
Proposed Rules
For the reasons set forth in the
preamble, the Federal Communications
Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR
part 2 as follows:
PART 2—FREQUENCY ALLOCATIONS
AND RADIO TREATY MATTERS;
GENERAL RULES AND REGULATIONS
1. The authority citation for part 2
continues to read as follows:
Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, and
336, unless otherwise noted.
2. In § 2.803 revise paragraph (c)(2)(i)
to read as follows:
§ 2.803 Marketing of radio frequency
devices prior to equipment authorization.
* * * * *
(c) * * *
(2) * * *
(i) Conditional sales contracts
(including agreements to produce new
devices manufactured in accordance
with designated specifications), and
advertisements for such sales, are
permitted between manufacturers and
potential customers provided that the
prospective buyer is advised at the time
of marketing, through a prominent
disclosure, that the equipment is subject
to the FCC rules and delivery to the
buyer or to centers of distribution is
conditional upon a determination that
the equipment complies with the
applicable equipment authorization and
technical requirements. Delivery to
customers of equipment subject to FCC
rules prior to obtaining the applicable
equipment authorization and complying
with the applicable technical
requirements is prohibited.
* * * * *
3. Amend § 2.1204 by adding
paragraph (a)(11) to read as follows:
§ 2.1204 Import Conditions.
(a) * * *
(11) The radio frequency device is
subject to Certification and is being
imported in quantities of 4,000 or fewer
units for pre-sale activity. Pre-sale
activity includes packaging and
delivering devices to retails locations, as
well as loading devices with specific
software to demonstrate specific
features of the devices when displayed
at retail locations. The devices will not
be displayed, operated, offered for sale,
marketed to consumers, or sold until
proper equipment authorization has
been obtained.
(i) The Chief, Office of Engineering
and Technology, may approve
importation of a greater number of units
in a manner otherwise consistent with
this paragraph (11) in response to a
specific request;
(ii) This exception is only available to
manufacturers for radiofrequency
devices who have a reasonable belief
that authorization will be granted
within 30 days of importation;
(iii) Each device imported under this
exception must contain a temporary
removable label stating: ‘‘This device
cannot be displayed, operated, offered
for sale, marketed to consumers, or sold
until FCC equipment authorization has
been granted. Under penalty of law, this
label may not be removed prior to the
grant of FCC authorization.’’
(iv) Notwithstanding § 2.926,
radiofrequency devices imported
pursuant to this paragraph (11) may
include the expected FCC ID if obscured
by the temporary label described in this
section or, in the case of electronic
displays, if it cannot be viewed prior to
authorization.
(v) The radiofrequency devices
remain under legal ownership of the
device manufacturer, and only
possession of the device is transferred
prior to authorization. Manufacturers
must have processes in place to retrieve
the equipment in the event that
authorization is not received.
(vi) Manufacturers must maintain, for
a period of sixty (60) months, records
identifying the recipient of devices
imported for pre-sale activities. Such
records must identify the device name
and product identifier, the quantity
shipped, the date on which the device
authorization was sought, the expected
FCC ID number, and the identity of the
recipient, including address and
telephone number. The manufacturer
must provide records maintained under
this paragraph (vi) upon the request of
Commission personnel.
PART 95—PERSONAL RADIO
SERVICES
4. The authority citation for part 95
continues to read as follows:
Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 307.
5. Section 95.391 is revised to read as
follows:
§ 95.391 Manufacturing, importation, and
sales of non-certified equipment prohibited.
No person shall manufacture, import,
sell or offer for sale non-certified
equipment for the Personal Radio
Services except as provided for in
§ 2.803(c)(2)(i) of this chapter. See
§ 302(b) of the Communications Act (47
U.S.C. 302a(b)). See also part 2, subpart
I (§ 2.801 et seq.) of this chapter for rules
governing marketing of radiofrequency
devices.
[FR Doc. 2020–28906 Filed 1–11–21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712–01–P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration
49 CFR Part 391
[Docket No. FMCSA–2019–0049]
RIN 2126–AC21
Qualifications of Drivers; Vision
Standard
AGENCY
: Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION
: Notice of proposed rulemaking.
SUMMARY
: FMCSA proposes to amend its
regulations to permit individuals who
cannot meet either the current distant
visual acuity or field of vision standard,
or both, in one eye to be physically
qualified to operate a commercial motor
vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.
Currently, such individuals are
prohibited from driving CMVs in
interstate commerce unless they obtain
an exemption from FMCSA. The Agency
proposes an alternative vision standard
for physical qualification that, if
adopted, would replace the current
vision exemption program as a basis for
establishing the physical qualification
determination for these individuals.
DATES
: You must submit comments on
this notice of proposed rulemaking
(NPRM) to FMCSA on or before March
15, 2021. Comments on the collection of
information must be received on or
before March 15, 2021.
ADDRESSES
: You may submit comments
on this NPRM identified by docket
number FMCSA–2019–0049 using any
one of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal:
www.regulations.gov.
Fax: (202) 493–2251.
Mail: Docket Operations, U.S.
Department of Transportation, West
Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140,
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE,
Washington, DC 20590–0001.
Hand Delivery: Docket Operations,
U.S. Department of Transportation,
West Building Ground Floor, Room
W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE,
Washington, DC 20590–0001, between 9
a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through
Friday, except Federal holidays.
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To avoid duplication, please use only
one of these four methods. See the
‘‘Public Participation and Request for
Comments’’ heading under the
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION
section
below for instructions regarding
submitting comments, including
collection of information comments for
the Office of Information and Regulatory
Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
: If
you have questions about this proposed
rule, contact Ms. Christine A. Hydock,
Chief, Medical Programs Division,
FMCSA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE,
Washington, DC 20590–0001, by
telephone at (202) 366–4001, or by
email at fmcsamedical@dot.gov. If you
have questions about viewing or
submitting material to the docket, call
DOT Docket Operations, (202) 366–
9826.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION
: This
NPRM is organized as follows.
I. Public Participation and Request for
Comments
A. Submitting Comments
B. Viewing Comments and Documents
C. Privacy Act
D. Waiver of Advance Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking
E. Comments on the Collection of
Information
II. Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Symbols
III. Executive Summary
A. Purpose of the Amendments
B. Summary of the Major Provisions
C. Benefits and Costs
IV. Legal Basis for the Rulemaking
V. Background
A. Current Vision Standard
B. Vision Waiver Study Program and
Grandfathered Drivers
C. Federal Vision Exemption Program—
1998 to the Present
VI. Assessments of the Vision Standards,
Waivers, and Exemptions
VII. Rationale for Proposed Qualification
Standard
A. Individuals Adapt to and Compensate
for Vision Loss
B. MEs Would Make the Qualification
Determination
C. Review of an Individual’s Safety
Performance Would Continue
VIII. Discussion of Proposed Rule
A. Proposed Physical Qualification Process
B. Road Test in Accordance With 49 CFR
391.31
C. Elimination of Vision Exemption
Program and Grandfather Provisions
D. Change to the Medical Examination
Process in 49 CFR 391.43(b)(1)
E. Benefits of the Proposal to Drivers
IX. Section-by-Section Analysis
A. Regulatory Provisions
B. Guidance Statements and Interpretations
X. International Impacts
XI. Regulatory Analyses
A. E.O. 12866 (Regulatory Planning and
Review), E.O. 13563 (Improving
Regulation and Regulatory Review), and
DOT Regulations
B. E.O. 13771 (Reducing Regulation and
Controlling Regulatory Costs)
C. Congressional Review Act
D. Regulatory Flexibility Act (Small
Entities)
E. Assistance for Small Entities
F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
G. Paperwork Reduction Act (Collection of
Information)
H. E.O. 13132 (Federalism)
I. Privacy
J. E.O. 13175 (Indian Tribal Governments)
K. National Environmental Policy Act of
1969
I. Public Participation and Request for
Comments
FMCSA encourages you to participate
in this rulemaking by submitting
comments and related materials. Where
possible, please provide scientific, peer-
reviewed articles to support your
comments.
A. Submitting Comments
If you submit comments, please
include the docket number for this
rulemaking (FMCSA–2019–0049),
indicate the heading of the specific
section of this document to which each
comment applies, and provide a reason
for each suggestion or recommendation.
You may submit your comments and
material online or by fax, mail, or hand
delivery, but please use only one of
these means. FMCSA recommends that
you include your name and a mailing
address, an email address, or a phone
number in the body of your document
so the Agency can contact you if it has
questions regarding your submission.
To submit your comment online, go to
www.regulations.gov, type the docket
number (FMCSA–2019–0049) in the
‘‘Keyword’’ box and click ‘‘Search.’’
When the new screen appears, click the
‘‘Comment Now!’’ button and type your
comment into the text box in the
following screen. Choose whether you
are submitting your comment as an
individual or on behalf of a third party,
and click ‘‘Submit.’’
If you submit your comments by mail
or hand delivery, submit them in an
unbound format, no larger than 8
1
2
by
11 inches, suitable for copying and
electronic filing. If you submit
comments by mail and would like to
know that they reached the facility,
please enclose a stamped, self-addressed
postcard or envelope.
Confidential Business Information:
Confidential Business Information (CBI)
is commercial or financial information
that is both customarily and actually
treated as private by its owner. Under
the Freedom of Information Act (5
U.S.C. 552), CBI is exempt from public
disclosure. If your comments responsive
to this NPRM contain commercial or
financial information that is customarily
treated as private, that you actually treat
as private, and that is relevant or
responsive to this NPRM, it is important
that you clearly designate the submitted
comments as CBI. FMCSA will treat
such marked submissions as
confidential under the Freedom of
Information Act, and they will not be
placed in the public docket for this
rulemaking. Please mark each page of
your submission that constitutes CBI as
‘‘PROPIN’’ to indicate it contains
proprietary information. Submissions
containing CBI should be sent to Mr.
Brian Dahlin, Chief, Regulatory Analysis
Division, FMCSA, 1200 New Jersey
Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. Any
comments FMCSA receives that are not
specifically designated as CBI will be
placed in the public docket for this
rulemaking.
FMCSA will consider all comments
and material received during the
comment period and may make changes
based on your comments. FMCSA may
issue a final rule at any time after the
close of the comment period.
B. Viewing Comments and Documents
To view comments and any document
mentioned in this preamble as being
available in the docket, go to
www.regulations.gov, insert the docket
number (FMCSA–2019–0049) in the
‘‘Keyword’’ box, and click ‘‘Search.’’
Next, click the ‘‘Open Docket Folder’’
button and choose the document listed
to review. If you do not have access to
the internet, you may view the docket
online by visiting Docket Operations 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.,
Monday through Friday, except Federal
holidays. To be sure someone is there to
help you, please call (202) 366–9317 or
(202) 366–9826 before visiting Docket
Operations.
C. 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—Federal Docket Management
System (FDMS), which can be reviewed
at https://www.transportation.gov/
privacy.
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A ‘‘major rule’’ means any rule that the
Administrator of OIRA at OMB finds has resulted
in or is likely to result in (a) an annual effect on
the economy of $100 million or more; (b) a major
increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual
industries, Federal agencies, State agencies, local
government agencies, or geographic regions; or (c)
significant adverse effects on competition,
employment, investment, productivity, innovation,
or on the ability of United States-based enterprises
to compete with foreign-based enterprises in
domestic and export markets (5 U.S.C. 804(2)).
D. Waiver of Advance Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking
Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(g)(1), FMCSA
is required to publish an advance notice
of proposed rulemaking or conduct a
negotiated rulemaking if a proposed rule
is likely to lead to the promulgation of
a major rule.
1
As this proposed rule is
not likely to result in the promulgation
of a major rule, the Agency is not
required to issue an advance notice of
proposed rulemaking or to proceed with
a negotiated rulemaking.
E. Comments on the Collection of
Information
Written comments and
recommendations for the proposed
information collections discussed in
this NPRM should be sent to FMCSA
within 60 days of publication using any
of the methods described in ‘‘Public
Participation and Request for
Comments’’ above.
II. Abbreviations, Acronyms, and
Symbols
ATA American Trucking Associations, Inc.
CBI Confidential Business Information
CDL Commercial Driver’s License
CFR Code of Federal Regulations
CMV Commercial Motor Vehicle
DOT U.S. Department of Transportation
E.O. Executive Order
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration
FMCSRs Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Regulations
FR Federal Register
GES General Estimates System
ICR Information Collection Request
Id. Idem—the same author or work
MCMIS Motor Carrier Management
Information System
ME Medical Examiner
MEC Medical Examiner’s Certificate, Form
MCSA–7876
MRB Medical Review Board
NAICS North American Industry
Classification System
National Registry National Registry of
Certified Medical Examiners
NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
OIRA Office of Information and Regulatory
Affairs
OMB Office of Management and Budget
RFA Regulatory Flexibility Act
SBA Small Business Administration
Secretary Secretary of Transportation
§ Section
TEA–21 Transportation Equity Act for the
21st Century
U.S.C. United States Code
III. Executive Summary
A. Purpose of the Amendments
FMCSA proposes to amend its
regulations to permit an individual who
cannot meet either the current distant
visual acuity or field of vision standard,
or both, in one eye to be physically
qualified to operate a CMV in interstate
commerce under specified conditions.
The individual would need to meet the
proposed alternative vision standard
and FMCSA’s other physical
qualification standards. In addition,
with limited exceptions, individuals
physically qualified under the
alternative standard for the first time
would complete a road test before
operating a CMV in interstate
commerce. The proposed action would
eliminate the need for the current
Federal vision exemption program, as
well as the grandfather provision in 49
CFR 391.64 for drivers operating under
the previously administered vision
waiver study program. Medical
professionals would evaluate and make
medical qualification determinations
instead of FMCSA, as in the current
exemption program. Motor carriers
would administer the road tests. The
proposed alternative vision standard
would enhance employment
opportunities while remaining
consistent with FMCSA’s safety
mission.
B. Summary of the Major Provisions
The proposed alternative vision
standard is based on recommendations
from FMCSA’s Medical Review Board
(MRB). The proposed physical
qualification process is analogous to the
regulatory framework FMCSA adopted
in § 391.46 for individuals with insulin-
treated diabetes mellitus (see 83 FR
47486, September 19, 2018). Prior to
that rulemaking, such individuals were
prohibited from driving CMVs in
interstate commerce unless they
obtained an exemption from FMCSA.
Like the approach in the rule for
insulin-treated diabetes mellitus, after
the public comment period for this
NPRM closes, FMCSA will ask the MRB
to review all comments from medical
professionals and associations. If after
that review the MRB makes material
changes to its prior recommendations,
FMCSA will publish a Federal Register
notice announcing the availability of the
new MRB recommendations and request
public comment specific to those
recommendations.
The proposed rule provides an
alternative vision standard for
individuals who cannot meet either the
current FMCSA distant visual acuity or
field of vision standard, or both, in one
eye and, if adopted, would replace the
current vision exemption program as a
basis for determining the physical
qualification of such individuals to
operate a CMV. The proposed action
would ensure that these individuals are
physically qualified to operate a CMV
safely. In addition, the proposed process
would create a clear and consistent
framework to assist certified medical
examiners (ME) with making a physical
qualification determination that is
equally as effective as a program based
entirely on granting exemptions under
49 U.S.C. 31315(b).
Just as in the alternative standard for
insulin-treated diabetes mellitus, the
alternative vision standard would
involve a two-step process for physical
qualification. First, an individual
seeking physical qualification would
obtain a vision evaluation from an
ophthalmologist or optometrist who
would record the findings and provide
specific medical opinions on the
proposed Vision Evaluation Report,
Form MCSA–5871, which incorporates
the recommendations of the MRB. Next,
an ME would perform an examination
and determine whether the individual
meets the proposed vision standard, as
well as FMCSA’s other physical
qualification standards. If the ME
determines that the individual meets the
physical qualification standards, the ME
could issue a Medical Examiner’s
Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA–5876,
for a maximum of 12 months. This
approach of MEs making the physical
qualification determination, instead of
FMCSA as in the current exemption
program, is consistent with Congress’s
directive in 49 U.S.C. 31149(d) to have
trained and certified MEs determine the
individual’s physical qualification to
operate a CMV.
In making the physical qualification
determination, the ME would consider
the information in the Vision Evaluation
Report, Form MCSA–5871, and utilize
independent medical judgment to apply
four standards. The proposal would
provide that, to be physically qualified
under the alternative vision standard,
the individual must: (1) Have in the
better eye distant visual acuity of at
least 20/40 (Snellen), with or without
corrective lenses, and field of vision of
at least 70 degrees in the horizontal
meridian; (2) be able to recognize the
colors of traffic signals and devices
showing standard red, green, and amber;
(3) have a stable vision deficiency; and
(4) have had sufficient time to adapt to
and compensate for the change in
vision.
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FHWA conducted the vision waiver study
program from July 1992 through March 31, 1996.
Drivers who participated in the program and held
valid waivers from the vision standard at the
program’s end could continue to operate in
interstate commerce under grandfather provisions
in 49 CFR 391.64. The vision waiver study program
and grandfather provisions are discussed in section
V.B. below.
3
FMCSA data as of July 2, 2019.
4
As discussed below in the Paperwork Reduction
Act section XI.G. with respect to the information
collection titled ‘‘Medical Qualification
Requirements,’’ FMCSA attributes 2,236 annual
burden hours at a cost of $69,136 for drivers to
request and maintain a vision exemption. The
proposed rule would eliminate this entire burden.
It is well recognized in the literature
that individuals with vision loss in one
eye can and do develop compensatory
viewing behavior to mitigate the vision
loss. Therefore, if an individual meets
the proposed vision standard, the
Agency expects there will be no adverse
impact on safety due to the individual’s
vision. That is, once an individual’s
vision is stable and the individual has
adapted to and compensated for the
change in vision, the loss in vision is
not likely to play a significant role in
whether the individual can drive a CMV
safely.
Instead of requiring 3 years of
intrastate driving experience with the
vision deficiency as in the current
exemption program, individuals
physically qualified under the proposed
alternative vision standard for the first
time would complete a road test before
operating in interstate commerce.
Individuals would be excepted from the
road test requirement if they have 3
years of intrastate or excepted interstate
CMV driving experience with the vision
deficiency, hold a valid Federal vision
exemption, or are medically certified
under § 391.64(b). These individuals
have already demonstrated they can
operate a CMV safely with the vision
deficiency. Motor carriers would
conduct the road test in accordance
with the road test already required by
§ 391.31. FMCSA finds that a road test
would be an appropriate indicator of an
individual’s ability to operate a CMV
safely with the vision deficiency. Thus,
the Agency expects there will be no
adverse impact on safety from
eliminating the 3-year intrastate driving
experience criterion.
The proposed standard takes a
performance-based approach. The
standard emphasizes that the individual
has developed the skills to adapt to and
compensate for the vision loss once it
has been deemed stable by a medical
professional, and that the individual has
demonstrated the skills to operate a
CMV safely. The ME would ensure the
driver is physically qualified to operate
a CMV in accordance with the physical
qualification standards. With limited
exceptions, motor carriers would
conduct a road test for individuals to
ensure they possess the skills needed to
operate a CMV safely with the vision
deficiency.
The Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA), the predecessor agency to
FMCSA, and FMCSA have continuously
monitored the impact of the vision
waiver study
2
and the exemption
programs to ensure they cause no
adverse impact on safety. The proposed
alternative vision standard would adopt
the major vision criteria of the existing
Federal vision exemption program,
which were also used in the preceding
Federal vision waiver study program
since the early 1990s, and would modify
other criteria from the exemption
program. Based on nearly 30 years of
experience with these programs,
individuals who meet the proposed
alternative vision standard will be at
least as safe as the general population of
CMV drivers. This experience has
shown that individuals with vision loss
in one eye are not limited by their lack
of binocularity with respect to driving
once they have adapted to and
compensated for the change in vision.
If the proposed action is adopted, the
2,566 vision exemption holders
3
would
no longer require an exemption.
Accordingly, these drivers would be
relieved of the time and paperwork
burden associated with applying for or
renewing an exemption.
4
The proposed
rule could increase employment
opportunities because potential
applicants who do not have 3 years of
intrastate driving experience may meet
the alternative vision standard and be
able to operate a CMV in interstate
commerce. In addition, previously
qualified interstate CMV drivers who
are no longer able to meet either the
distant visual acuity or field of vision
standard, or both, in one eye would be
able to return to operating in interstate
commerce sooner.
FMCSA proposes that the
approximately 1,900 individuals
physically qualified under the
grandfather provisions in § 391.64(b)
would have 1 year after the effective
date of any final rule to comply with the
rule. During that transition year,
grandfathered individuals could elect to
seek physical qualification through the
final rule or § 391.64. This transition
year would provide time to learn the
new process for individuals whose
MEC, Form MCSA–5876, expires near
the time any final rule becomes
effective. However, 1 year after the
effective date of the final rule all MECs,
Form MCSA–5876, issued under
§ 391.64(b) would become void.
Similarly, the 2,566 vision exemption
holders would have 1 year after the
effective date of any final rule to comply
with the rule, at which time all
exemptions issued under 49 U.S.C.
31315(b) would become void. Drivers
who hold a vision exemption would be
notified by letter with details of the
transition to the new standard.
C. Benefits and Costs
FMCSA estimates that the proposed
rule would reduce barriers to entry for
current and future CMV drivers. The
2,566 drivers holding vision exemptions
would no longer have to apply for an
exemption, and potential driver
applicants who do not have 3 years of
intrastate driving experience may meet
the alternative vision standard and be
able to operate a CMV in interstate
commerce. A one-time road test would
be less burdensome on drivers than
obtaining 3 years of intrastate driving
experience and addresses the
consideration that some drivers live in
States that do not issue vision waivers.
The proposed rule would result in
incremental cost savings of
approximately $1.6 million annually by
eliminating the need for the Federal
vision exemption program. This
estimate includes the additional annual
impact of approximately $47,000 for the
road test. The Agency does not
anticipate any negative impacts on
safety.
The proposed rulemaking, if finalized,
would result in reduced costs and,
therefore, would be a deregulatory
action under Executive Order (E.O.)
13771, Reducing Regulation and
Controlling Regulatory Costs. The
present value of the cost savings,
measured on an infinite time horizon at
a 7 percent discount rate, expressed in
2016 dollars, would be $14.9 million.
On an annualized basis, these cost
savings would be $1 million.
IV. Legal Basis for the Rulemaking
FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C.
31136(a) and 31502(b)—delegated to the
Agency by 49 CFR 1.87(f) and (i),
respectively—to establish minimum
qualifications, including physical
qualifications, for individuals operating
CMVs in interstate commerce. Section
31136(a)(3) requires specifically that the
Agency’s safety regulations ensure that
the physical condition of CMV drivers
is adequate to enable them to operate
their vehicles safely and that certified
MEs trained in physical and medical
examination standards perform the
physical examinations required of such
drivers.
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Section 206(f) of the Motor Carrier Safety Act of
1984 provides that any Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Regulation (FMCSR) can be waived if ‘‘such waiver
is not contrary to the public interest and is
consistent with the safe operation of [CMVs].’’
Public Law 98–554, 98 Stat. 2832, 2835, (October
30, 1984), originally codified at 49 U.S.C. App. 2505
and then at former 49 U.S.C. 31136(e).
In addition to the statutory
requirements specific to the physical
qualifications of CMV drivers, section
31136(a) requires the Secretary of
Transportation (Secretary) to issue
regulations on CMV safety, including
regulations to ensure that CMVs ‘‘are
maintained, equipped, loaded, and
operated safely’’ (section 31136(a)(1)).
The remaining statutory factors and
requirements in section 31136(a), to the
extent they are relevant, are also
satisfied here. The proposed rule would
not impose any ‘‘responsibilities . . . on
operators of [CMVs that would] impair
their ability to operate the vehicles
safely’’ (section 31136(a)(2)), or ‘‘have a
deleterious effect on the physical
condition’’ of CMV drivers (section
31136(a)(4)). FMCSA also does not
anticipate that drivers would be coerced
to operate a vehicle because of this
rulemaking (section 31136(a)(5)).
Additionally, in 2005, Congress
authorized the creation of the MRB,
composed of experts in a variety of
medical specialties relevant to the
driver fitness requirements, to provide
medical advice and recommendations
on physical qualification standards (49
U.S.C. 31149(a)). The position of Chief
Medical Examiner was authorized at the
same time (49 U.S.C. 31149(b)). Under
section 31149(c)(1), the Agency, with
the advice of the MRB and Chief
Medical Examiner, is directed to
establish, review, and revise medical
standards for CMV drivers that will
ensure their physical condition is
adequate to enable them to operate the
vehicles safely (see also 49 U.S.C.
31149(d)).
Finally, prior to prescribing any
regulations, FMCSA must consider their
‘‘costs and benefits’’ (49 U.S.C.
31136(c)(2)(A) and 31502(d)). Those
factors are discussed in the Regulatory
Analyses section of this NPRM.
V. Background
A. Current Vision Standard
FMCSA’s mission is to reduce
crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving
large trucks and buses. As discussed
above, FMCSA is authorized by statute
to establish minimum physical
qualification standards for drivers of
CMVs operating in interstate commerce.
To ensure the physical qualification of
CMV drivers, the Agency has
established several standards. As vision
plays an important role in the driving
task, one of the standards provides
vision requirements (see 49 CFR
391.41(b)(10)).
FHWA adopted the current vision
standard in 1970 (35 FR 6458, 6463,
April 22, 1970). Under this standard, an
individual is physically qualified to
drive a CMV if the individual 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 at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both
eyes with or without corrective lenses,
field of vision of at least 70 degrees in
the horizontal meridian in each eye, and
the ability to recognize the colors of
traffic signals and devices showing
standard red, green, and amber (49 CFR
391.41(b)(10)). This standard has not
changed since it became effective on
January 1, 1971.
FMCSA’s physical qualification
standards cover 13 areas that relate
directly to the driving function. With
respect to most of the standards, an
individual’s qualification to drive is
determined by an ME who is
knowledgeable about the on-the-job
functions performed by a commercial
driver and whether the driver has a
condition that would interfere with the
operation of a CMV. In the case of three
standards, including vision, the
standard is absolute and provides no
discretion to the ME. Thus, any
individual who does not meet the vision
standard in its entirety cannot be
physically qualified to drive a CMV in
interstate commerce.
B. Vision Waiver Study Program and
Grandfathered Drivers
On March 25, 1992, FHWA published
notice of its intent to accept
applications from CMV drivers for
temporary waivers of certain
requirements contained in the vision
standard, pursuant to the waiver
provision of former 49 U.S.C. 31136(e)
(57 FR 10295). To avoid any adverse
impact on highway safety, FHWA
outlined specific criteria that applicants
had to meet to receive the vision waiver.
The waiver program’s goal was to
provide objective data to be considered
in a future rulemaking that would
explore the feasibility of relaxing the
absolute vision standard in favor of a
more individualized standard. To do so,
FHWA invited CMV drivers who met
the vision standard to participate in a
study comparing a group of experienced
drivers who did not meet the vision
standard with a control group of drivers
who did meet the standard.
Subsequently, on June 3, 1992, FHWA
modified some of the program’s
conditions, clarified some of its details,
and requested comments on the
proposed vision waiver study program
(57 FR 23370, June 3, 1992).
In July 1992, FHWA announced its
decision to issue waivers of the vision
requirements and published the final
criteria for the vision waiver study
program (57 FR 31458, July 16, 1992).
FHWA concluded that the program met
the statutory requirements for granting
waivers because the program was in the
public interest and included conditions
that allowed FHWA to find that such
waivers were consistent with the safe
operation of CMVs.
5
FHWA reiterated
that the vision waiver study program
would provide the empirical data
necessary to evaluate the relationships
between specific vision deficiencies and
the operation of CMVs.
Under the vision waiver study
program, FHWA issued waivers to
drivers following an individual
determination of each driver’s capability
to operate a CMV safely. The
determination included a review of each
individual’s vital statistics, experience
operating CMVs, anticipated post-
waiver operations, and status of driving
privilege as recorded on the licensing
State’s motor vehicle record for the past
3 years. The determination also
included a review of an opinion by an
ophthalmologist or optometrist attesting
to the visual acuity of each driver, that
the visual acuity had not worsened
since the last vision examination, and
that the driver was able to perform the
driving tasks required to operate a CMV.
The waiver study program required
visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen),
corrected or uncorrected, in the better
eye, as well as satisfaction of the other
applicable vision standard requirements
(i.e., field of vision of at least 70 degrees
in the horizontal meridian in the better
eye and the ability to recognize red,
green, and amber colors).
Drivers eligible for vision waivers had
to have driving records that surpassed
those of their peers who met the vision
requirements. FHWA aimed to eliminate
unsafe drivers by requiring applicants to
have 3 years of intrastate CMV driving
experience with the vision deficiency
and a record that showed:
(1) No suspensions or revocations of his or
her driver’s license for operating violations in
any motor vehicle;
(2) No involvement in a reportable accident
in a CMV in which the applicant was cited
for a moving traffic violation;
(3) No convictions for a disqualifying
offense, as described in 49 CFR 383.51 (e.g.,
driving a CMV while under the influence of
alcohol or a controlled substance, leaving the
scene of an accident involving a CMV, or the
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Section 383.5 was amended to remove the
definition of a ‘‘serious traffic violation’’ effective
July 8, 2011 (76 FR 26854, 26878, May 9, 2011).
Section 383.51(c) contains a list of serious traffic
violations and the periods for which an individual
is disqualified from operating a CMV.
7
Sheridan J, and DuLaney A., Qualification of
Drivers—Vision, Diabetes, Hearing and Epilepsy.
Final Report, McLean, VA: Conwal, Inc.; May 30,
1997, p. 7, which is available at https://ntrl.ntis.gov/
NTRL/dashboard/searchResults/titleDetail/
PB98142649.xhtml (last accessed August 23, 2019)
and in the docket. Note that this report is cited as
Conwal, Inc. in this rulemaking.
8
FHWA stated that during the same period there
were 6 fatal accidents in which waived drivers were
involved, and one more occurred after June 30,
1994. A review of the police accident reports,
however, revealed that none of the waived drivers
was found to be at fault by the reporting police
officer (59 FR 59389).
9
Public Law 105–178, 112 Stat. 107, 401, June 9,
1998.
10
Copies of these documents are in the docket for
this rulemaking and available on FMCSA’s website
at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/medical/driver-
Continued
commission of a felony involving the use of
a CMV), or more than one serious traffic
violation, as that term was defined in § 383.5
at the applicable time
6
(e.g., excessive
speeding, reckless driving, improper or
erratic lane changes, following the vehicle
ahead too closely, or a violation arising in
connection with a fatality, all while driving
a CMV); and
(4) No more than two convictions for any
other moving traffic violations while driving
a CMV.
FHWA accepted 2,686 drivers into the
vision waiver study program.
7
Once
granted a waiver, a driver had to report
or submit certain information to FHWA
during the term of the waiver. Each
driver was required to:
(1) Report any citation for a moving
violation involving the operation of a CMV;
(2) Report the disposition of such citation;
(3) Report any accident involvement while
operating a CMV;
(4) Submit documentation of an annual
evaluation by an ophthalmologist or
optometrist; and
(5) Submit monthly driving reports that
included the number of miles driving a CMV
during the preceding month (with daylight
and nighttime hours reported separately) and
the number of days a CMV was not operated
during the preceding month.
FHWA periodically verified the waived
drivers’ reported accidents and citations
through State motor vehicle records and
the waived drivers’ medical reports.
On August 2, 1994, the United States
Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit found that FHWA’s
determination that the vision waiver
study program would not adversely
affect the safe operation of CMVs lacked
empirical support in the record
(Advocates for Highway and Auto
Safety v. FHWA, 28 F.3d 1288, 1294
(D.C. Cir. 1994)). Accordingly, the court
found that FHWA failed to meet the
exacting statutory requirements to grant
a waiver. Consequently, the court
concluded that FHWA’s adoption of the
waiver program was contrary to law and
vacated and remanded the decision to
FHWA.
On November 17, 1994, FHWA
published notice of its final
determination to continue the vision
waiver study program through March
31, 1996, and announced a change in
the research plan (59 FR 59386). FHWA
determined that issuing waivers to the
drivers through the conclusion of the
program was consistent with the public
interest and the safe operation of CMVs.
FHWA based its decision, in part, on
data collected on the group of waived
drivers indicating that they had
performed and continued to perform
more safely than drivers in the general
population of commercial drivers. As
discussed above, drivers were required
to have a 3-year safe driving history in
intrastate commerce to participate in the
program. A statistical analysis of the
driving performance of individuals
participating in the program from July
1992 to July 1994 revealed the total
accident rate of drivers in the waived
group was 1.636 per million vehicle
miles traveled compared to the higher
national accident rate of 2.531 per
million vehicle miles traveled (59 FR
59389).
8
On March 26, 1996, FHWA issued a
rule to allow those drivers participating
in the vision waiver study program and
holding valid waivers from the vision
standard to continue to operate in
interstate commerce after March 31,
1996 (61 FR 13338). FHWA amended 49
CFR part 391 by adding a new provision
at § 391.64 to grant grandfather rights to
these drivers, subject to certain
conditions. FHWA required a physical
qualification examination for the
grandfathered drivers every year, rather
than every 2 years as required of most
other drivers, as an extra precaution to
ensure the continued safe operation of
these drivers. Under § 391.64(b), the
grandfathered drivers, like all other
interstate drivers, must be otherwise
physically qualified under § 391.41(b)
(including a field of vision of at least 70
degrees in the horizontal meridian in
the better eye and the ability to
recognize red, green, and amber colors).
In addition, the grandfathered vision
drivers must obtain an annual vision
examination by an ophthalmologist or
optometrist indicating that they have
been examined and that the distant
visual acuity in the better eye continues
to measure at least 20/40 (Snellen). This
information must be submitted to the
certifying ME at the time of the
individual’s annual physical
qualification examination. Currently,
FMCSA checks the driving records of
grandfathered drivers to determine if
they continue to operate CMVs safely.
C. Federal Vision Exemption Program—
1998 to the Present
FHWA established the current Federal
vision exemption program on December
8, 1998 (63 FR 67600) following the
enactment of amendments to the
statutes governing exemptions made by
section 4007 of the Transportation
Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA–
21).
9
With the enactment of TEA–21,
FHWA was authorized to grant an
exemption to relieve an individual from
compliance in whole or in part with
certain regulations if FHWA determined
that the exemption would likely achieve
a level of safety equivalent to, or greater
than, the level that would be achieved
by complying with the regulation to
which the exemption would apply (49
U.S.C. 31315(b)(1)).
FMCSA processes exemption letters
of application in accordance with 49
CFR part 381, subpart C. Qualifying
individuals may apply for an exemption
from specified provisions of the
FMCSRs, including physical
qualification standards specified under
§ 391.41(b) (see 49 CFR 381.300(c)(3)).
Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b),
FMCSA may grant an exemption for up
to a 5-year period and may renew an
exemption at the end of the 5-year
period. However, FMCSA grants vision
exemptions for up to a 2-year period to
align with the maximum duration of a
driver’s physical qualification
certification. The Agency considers
vision exemptions on a case-by-case
basis upon application by CMV drivers
who do not meet either the distant
visual acuity or field of vision standard,
or both, of § 391.41(b)(10) in one eye.
The Agency does not grant exemptions
for color blindness.
The criteria currently considered
when reviewing an application for a
Federal vision exemption have been in
place since the program began in 1998.
The vision criteria are consistent with
criteria used in the preceding Federal
vision waiver study program that began
in July 1992.
As part of the current vision
exemption program, there is a template
that CMV drivers can use to prepare a
letter of application for a Federal vision
exemption. In addition to the template,
there are two instructional letters for
applicants residing in Florida or Indiana
that provide the unique State processes
for requesting a copy of a motor vehicle
record.
10
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(last accessed October 1, 2019).
The template outlines the information
and documents drivers should include
to be considered for an exemption. In
general, drivers should submit
information relating to vital statistics,
experience driving a CMV (number of
years driving, types of vehicles driven,
miles driven per year), and present
employment (contact information, types
of vehicles, items transported, driving
hours). Drivers also should submit
documentation to support the
application, such as a copy of the
driver’s license to operate a CMV; an
official copy of the driving record issued
by a State; copies of any citations, crash
reports, or court records; a signed
statement on letterhead from present or
past employers (or a notarized statement
if letterhead is not available); and a
signed statement on letterhead by an
ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Applicants are not permitted to
operate a CMV in interstate commerce
during the time in which an application
for a new exemption is pending. The
Agency encourages drivers to begin the
renewal process well in advance of an
exemption’s expiration. In addition, the
Agency provides such drivers with a
deadline by which their renewal
package must be complete. Drivers who
miss the deadline risk having their
exemptions expire, resulting in a lapse
of their permission to operate a CMV in
interstate commerce.
Under the current program, FMCSA
considers exemptions from either the
distant visual acuity or field of vision
standard, or both, in one eye only for
those individuals who:
(1) Hold a valid license (an intrastate
commercial driver’s license (CDL) or a non-
CDL license to operate a CMV);
(2) Are at least 21 years old;
(3) Have 3 years of legal CMV driving
experience, driving at least 10 hours per
week in intrastate commerce with the vision
deficiency, immediately preceding the date
of the application;
(4) Have had a driving record for the 3-year
period immediately preceding the date of
application that contains:
(a) No suspensions or revocations of a
driver’s license for the operation of any
motor vehicle (including a personal vehicle);
(b) No involvement in a crash for which
the driver contributed or received a citation
for a moving traffic violation;
(c) No convictions for a disqualifying
offense, as defined in § 383.51(b);
(d) No more than one serious traffic
violation, as defined in § 383.51(c), driving a
CMV that disqualified or should have
disqualified the driver in accordance with
the driver disqualification provisions of
§ 383.51; and
(e) No more than two convictions for any
other moving traffic violations in a CMV.
(5) Provide a signed statement that reads,
‘‘I acknowledge that I must be otherwise
qualified under 49 CFR 391.41(b)(1)–(13)
before I can legally operate a commercial
motor vehicle in interstate commerce’’;
(6) Have visual acuity of at least 20/40
(Snellen), corrected or uncorrected, in the
better eye;
(7) Have field of vision, including central
and peripheral fields, of at least 70 degrees
in the horizontal meridian in the better eye
utilizing a testing modality that tests to at
least 120 degrees in the horizontal (Formal
perimetry is required. The doctor must
submit the formal perimetry for each eye and
interpret the results in degrees of field
vision.);
(8) Can recognize the colors of traffic
control signals and devices showing red,
green, and amber; and
(9) Have been examined in the last 3
months by an ophthalmologist or optometrist
who:
(a) Identifies the vision deficiency;
(b) Defines the nature of the vision
deficiency, including how long the driver has
had the deficiency;
(c) States the date of the examination;
(d) Certifies that the vision deficiency is
stable; and
(e) Provides an opinion that the driver has
sufficient vision to perform the driving tasks
required to operate a CMV.
FMCSA is required to publish a notice
in the Federal Register explaining that
a medical exemption request has been
submitted to the Agency for
consideration. The notice provides the
driver’s name, age, and class of license
with issuing State, as well as the
specific cause and duration of the
driver’s vision deficiency and current
distant visual acuity in at least the better
eye. The notice identifies the provisions
from which the individual seeks
exemption and the effective period, and
provides an opportunity for public
comment. After the 30-day comment
period, FMCSA must publish a notice in
the Federal Register of its decision to
approve or deny the request and all the
terms and conditions of any exemption
granted.
The Agency imposes the following
requirements on drivers who are granted
an exemption from the vision standards
in § 391.41(b)(10):
(1) The exempted driver must be examined
every year by:
(a) An ophthalmologist or optometrist who
attests that the driver’s vision continues to
meet the standards of 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10)
in the better eye (i.e., that the individual has
distant visual acuity of at least 20/40
(Snellen), field of vision of at least 70 degrees
in the horizontal meridian, and can recognize
red, green, and amber colors); and
(b) An ME who determines that the driver
is otherwise qualified under § 391.41 and
provides an MEC, Form MCSA–5876, that
includes a statement that the driver is
medically qualified when accompanied by a
Federal vision exemption.
(2) The driver must provide a copy of the
ophthalmologist or optometrist report to the
ME at the time of the driver’s annual physical
qualification examination.
(3) The driver must keep a copy of the
annual MEC, Form MCSA–5876, in his or her
qualification file if the driver is self-
employed or provide a copy to the driver’s
employer for retention in the driver’s
qualification file.
(4) The driver must possess a copy of the
exemption and MEC, Form MCSA–5876,
when driving, for presentation to any legally
authorized Federal, State, or local
enforcement official.
(5) The driver must obtain and display the
appropriate driver’s license from his or her
State of domicile and comply with any
restrictions placed thereon regarding use of
eyeglasses, mirrors, or other visual aids.
(6) The driver must report any changes in
personal information (i.e., address, telephone
number, employment status) to FMCSA
immediately, as well as changes in the type
of vehicle driven.
At any time during the authorized
exemption period, the Agency may
require the exempted CMV driver to
provide information regarding driving
experience and performance as it relates
to citations, crashes, license
suspensions or revocations, and medical
status (78 FR 76590, 76591, December
18, 2013).
FMCSA monitors each driver’s
performance operating a CMV on a
quarterly basis. FMCSA may revoke an
exemption immediately if (1) the driver
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 before the
exemption was granted; or (3)
continuation of the exemption is
determined by FMCSA to be
inconsistent with the goals and
objectives of the FMCSRs (49 CFR
381.330(b)).
On December 18, 2013, FMCSA
proposed changes to the eligibility
requirements for the exemption
program, including changes to the
driving experience, convictions and
violations, and driver statement criteria
(78 FR 76590). After receiving
comments that both supported and
opposed the proposed changes, the
Agency elected not to revise the
exemption program criteria at that time.
As suggested by some comments, the
development of a fuller record in a
rulemaking proceeding will assist the
Agency in making an appropriate
determination about modifying the
vision standard instead of modifying the
exemption criteria.
FMCSA’s October 2017 annual report
to Congress on waivers, exemptions,
and pilot programs noted that the vision
exemption program received 1,147
applications and granted 479
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FMCSA. Waivers, Exemptions, and Pilot
Programs Annual Report to Congress Fiscal Year
2016, October 2017, p. 3, available at https://
www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/policy/reports-congress
(last accessed July 15, 2019) and in the docket.
12
FMCSA: Waivers, Exemptions, and Pilot
Programs Annual Report to Congress Fiscal Year
2017, September 2018, p. 3, available at https://
www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/policy/reports-congress
(last accessed July 15, 2019) and in the docket.
13
Decina L, Breton M, and Staphlin L., Visual
Disorders and Commercial Drivers (Report No.
DTFH61–90–C–00093), Malvern, PA: Ketron
Division of the Bionetics Corp., Washington, DC:
FHWA, Office of Motor Carriers (FHWA–MC–92–
003), November 1991, available at https://
ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults/
titleDetail/PB92143015.xhtml (last accessed August
20, 2019). Note that this report is cited as ‘‘Ketron’’
in this rulemaking.
14
Id. at Technical Report Documentation Page
(Abstract); see also p. 15.
15
Id. at iv.
16
Id. at 15.
17
Id. at 34.
18
Id. at iv; see also p. 13.
19
Sheridan J, and DuLaney A., Qualifications of
Drivers—Vision, Diabetes, Hearing and Epilepsy,
Final Report, McLean, VA: Conwal, Inc., May 30,
1997, available at https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/
dashboard/searchResults/titleDetail/
PB98142649.xhtml (last accessed August 23, 2019).
20
28 F.3d 1288, 1294 (D.C. Cir. 1994) (see section
V.B. above for additional information relating to
this lawsuit).
21
FHWA originally conceived a study that would
determine the associated level of risk of allowing
CMV drivers who did not meet the physical
qualification standards relating to vision, diabetes,
epilepsy, and hearing to operate interstate. These
conditions were chosen because the related
standards were absolute at the time, providing no
discretion to the ME. Because of the lawsuit, FHWA
did not initiate the hearing and epilepsy waiver
study programs.
22
The GES is a national survey of police accident
reports in the United States conducted by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
23
The seven monitoring reports are included in
Appendix 12 of the May 1997 final report titled
‘‘Qualification of Drivers—Vision, Diabetes, Hearing
and Epilepsy’’ by Conwal, Inc.
exemptions in Federal fiscal year
2016.
11
The September 2018 annual
report to Congress noted that the vision
exemption program received 793
applications and granted 286
exemptions in Federal fiscal year
2017.
12
As of July 2, 2019, there were 2,566
drivers with active exemptions issued
pursuant to the Federal vision
exemption program. From January 2016
through July 2019, the most prevalent
reasons for denial of exemption requests
were insufficient intrastate driving
experience (i.e., less than 3 years of
experience) and not meeting the vision
standard in the better eye.
VI. Assessments of the Vision
Standards, Waivers, and Exemptions
FHWA and FMCSA have a long
history of examining the relationship
between the vision standards in
§ 391.41(b)(10) and the performance of
CMV drivers. Since the early 1990s,
FHWA and FMCSA have continuously
monitored the impact of the vision
waiver study and vision exemption
programs to ensure they cause no
adverse impact on safety. The basis for
this rulemaking is the safety
performance of the drivers in these
programs, which is at least as good as
that of the general population of CMV
drivers.
Consistent with statutory
requirements, the Agency consults with
the MRB and Chief Medical Examiner to
establish, review, and revise physical
qualification standards for CMV drivers.
FMCSA also engages these medical
professionals to assist with medical and
scientific reports and analyses prepared
for the Agency. The reports and
analyses undertaken since 1990 to
gather information and evaluate the
vision standards, the waiver study
program, and exemption program, as
well as MRB recommendations
pertaining to vision, are summarized
below and are available in the docket for
this rulemaking.
In November 1991, FHWA received a
report titled ‘‘Visual Disorders and
Commercial Drivers’’ prepared by the
Ketron Division of the Bionetics
Corporation.
13
The primary objective of
this project was to reassess the adequacy
of the Federal vision standards for CMV
drivers. In that regard, the report
concluded that a review of the most
recent scientific research that
investigated the vision performance of
passenger and commercial drivers
‘‘revealed no conclusive evidence to
support definitive changes to the
current standard.’’
14
The report found
the studies ‘‘were able to demonstrate
only weak relationships between
measures of vision and correlates of
driver safety.’’
15
Only a few studies
examined the relationship between the
driving performance record of CMV
drivers and their vision performance.
16
The project considered the need to
exclude drivers with substantial vision
loss only in one eye. Ketron convened
a focused workshop discussion
consisting of a panel of doctors,
ophthalmologists, optometrists,
professors in academic ophthalmology
departments, and traffic and safety
professionals in private industry. ‘‘Most
panelists agreed that the available
research results linking driver safety to
lowered acuity in one eye were
sufficient to change the current standard
to allow monocular drivers or drivers
with vision that is substantially worse
in one eye.’’
17
However, the panelists
did not reach a consensus.
The Ketron report noted the
difficulties associated with determining
minimum vision criteria. It stated that
‘‘[n]umerous studies have shown that
visual deficits are rarely the primary
cause of major accidents. Typically,
many factors are found to contribute.’’
18
It continued that individuals involved
in accidents have already been screened
for visual deficits, which reduces the
number of visually poor drivers on the
road. Accordingly, tests of primary
visual capability cannot reasonably be
expected to correlate highly with
measures of driver safety or to provide
unambiguous cutoff points for screening
out unsafe drivers.
In June 1992, FHWA stated that the
Ketron project illuminated the lack of
empirical data on the link between
vision disorders and CMV safety (57 FR
23370, June 3, 1992). FHWA proposed
the vision waiver study program to
obtain the empirical data that the Ketron
project did not provide. Accordingly,
FHWA began the vision waiver study
program in July 1992 that concluded in
March 1996.
In May 1997, Conwal, Inc. presented
FHWA with the final report titled
‘‘Qualification of Drivers—Vision,
Diabetes, Hearing and Epilepsy’’
19
that
described the findings of the vision
waiver study program. The program’s
goal was to determine the associated
risk, based on accident involvement, of
allowing CMV drivers who did not meet
the vision standard to drive under a
granted waiver in interstate commerce.
FHWA determined that the findings
showed the waiver group did not
represent a threat to public safety.
The original design of the vision
waiver study program was an
observational, nonrandomized study
with a prospective cohort structure.
However, the Advocates for Highway
and Auto Safety v. FHWA
20
lawsuit
prevented the implementation of the
study, and the study was converted to
a monitoring program to ensure that the
public was not exposed to excessive
risk.
21
Monitoring focused on comparing the
accident rates of the waivered drivers to
rates of a reference group that
represented the prevailing safety level
for drivers of large trucks (10,000
pounds or larger) in the United States.
FHWA selected the General Estimates
System (GES) as the best measure of the
prevailing national norm relative to
large truck accidents.
22
A series of seven
monitoring reports was completed
during the vision waiver study program
to report periodically on the number of
accidents occurring in the group of
drivers who were issued waivers.
23
The seventh monitoring report in the
series was completed in February 1996
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24
FHWA, Office of Motor Carriers. The Seventh
Monitoring Report on the Drivers of Commercial
Motor Vehicles Who Receive Vision Waivers,
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
Transportation, February 29, 1996, p. 1.
25
Id. at 2.
26
Id. at 2–3.
27
Id. at 3, note.
28
FHWA, Office of Motor Carrier Research and
Standards, Qualifications of Drivers—Vison and
Diabetes, Tech Brief (FHWA–MCRT–99–017),
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
Transportation, September 1999, available at
https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/14291 (last
accessed July 15, 2019).
29
Berson F, Kuperwaser M, Aiello L, and
Rosenberg J., Visual Requirements and Commercial
Drivers, Final Report, Boston, MA: Beth Israel
Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical
School, October 16, 1998, available at https://
www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/
visionfinalreport10-16-98.pdf (last accessed July 15,
2019).
30
Id. at 12 (original bolding deleted).
31
Cambridge Systematics, Inc., Medical
Exemption Program Study: Preliminary Report of
Findings, Final Report, Chevy Chase, MD:
Cambridge Systematics, Inc., October 13, 2006,
available at https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/16459
(last accessed July 16, 2019).
32
Id. at 7–1.
and reported driving behavior for the
drivers who were still in the program as
of November 1995. From August 1992 to
November 1995, 510 total accidents (i.e.,
not limited to accidents where fault was
assigned to the waivered driver) were
reported in this group.
24
To effectively monitor the waiver
program, FHWA established a
framework to notify FHWA if the waiver
group proved to be unsafe. The
framework involved the use of a
decision strategy that identified when
the waiver group’s accident rate was
sufficiently larger than the national
accident rate that there could be a threat
to public safety. More specifically, the
90 percent confidence interval
associated with the waiver group’s
accident rate was compared to the
national rate. The national rate was
treated as a constant because it was
given frequently as an official rate
without a confidence interval. The
decision was made to notify FHWA
when the lower 90 percent confidence
bound associated with the accident rate
of the waiver group was larger than the
national rate. That strategy was seen as
conservative in that it limited the
waiver group’s accident exposure.
25
Based on analysis of the data
collected from August 1992 to
November 1995, Table 1 provides a
comparison of the accident rate in the
waiver group to the national rate.
Relative to the 90 percent confidence
interval calculated for the waiver
group’s rate, the data show the lower
bound was not larger than the national
rate. In fact, the waiver group’s overall
accident rate was lower than the
national rate. Thus, FHWA determined
that the waiver group did not represent
a threat to public safety.
26
Table 1 also presents comparisons
between the waiver group and national
accident rates relative to accident
severity. FHWA routinely investigated
serious accidents and violations
involving members of the waiver group.
‘‘In the case of these accidents, the
drivers were not found to be at fault nor
were any of the accidents related to a
vision deficiency.’’
27
In none of the
severity categories did the lower 90
percent confidence bounds of the
relevant waiver group rates exceed the
respective national rates.
T
ABLE
1—C
OMPARISON OF
A
CCIDENT
R
ATES
E
XPERIENCED BY
C
OMMERCIAL
M
OTOR
V
EHICLE
O
PERATORS
W
ITH
V
ISION
W
AIVERS TO
N
ATIONAL
A
CCIDENT
R
ATES IN
R
ELATION TO
T
OTAL
A
CCIDENTS AND
A
CCIDENT
S
EVERITY
Waiver group
accident rate
1
(number of
accidents)
90% Confidence interval
(lower and upper) National
accident rate
2
(number of
accidents)
Total Accidents
3
........................................................................................ 1.706 (510) 1.582 1.830 2.605 (444,000)
Accident Severity
Property Damage Only .............................................................................. 1.284 (384) 1.177 1.392 2.048 (349,000)
Injury Involved ............................................................................................ .408 (122) .347 .469 .534 (95,000)
Fatality Involved ......................................................................................... .013 (4) .002 .024 .026 (4,615)
1
Rate is calculated based on 299 million vehicle miles traveled by the waiver group between July 1992 and November 1995.
2
National accident estimates are for large trucks given by the GES 1994, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Rate calculated
based on 170,415 million vehicle miles traveled in 1994.
3
Total accidents experienced by the waiver group between July 1992 and November 1995.
Source: FHWA. Office of Motor Carriers. The Seventh Monitoring Report on the Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles Who Receive Vision
Waivers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation; February 29, 1996, Table 1.
A September 1999 FHWA Tech Brief
titled ‘‘Qualifications of Drivers —
Vision and Diabetes’’
28
summarizes the
May 1997 report discussed above. The
Tech Brief notes that the report’s risk
analysis was performed to support the
grandfathering of drivers to permanent
waiver status after the vision waiver
study program was closed; therefore, the
generalizability of the results was
limited.
In October 1998, FHWA received a
report titled ‘‘Visual Requirements and
Commercial Drivers’’ prepared by a
panel of medical experts associated with
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
and Harvard Medical School.
29
The
report stated that the data obtained from
the vision waiver study program was
‘‘extremely compelling. The waiver
group accident rate was consistently
below the national accident rate
(cumulative comparison) and for drivers
still in the program in August 1995, the
waiver group accident rate consistently
decreased to well below the national
accident rate, exceeding the latter only
during the first 6 months of the
program.’’
30
The report continued that
the program resulted in a useful
database that clearly supported a new
ongoing waiver program, and provided
sufficient rationale for a follow-up study
that might modify the current vision
requirements for commercial drivers.
In October 2006, FMCSA received a
report titled ‘‘Medical Exemption
Program Study’’ prepared by Cambridge
Systematics, Inc.
31
This project
provided process and outcome
information regarding the vision
exemption program. The main
conclusion of this project was that the
vision exemption program did not
appear to impact safety negatively on
the nation’s highways.
32
Additionally,
the project found the overall vision
exemption program to be effective.
Drivers in the vision exemption
program had 20 percent fewer reported
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Id. at 7–1.
34
Id. at 6–14.
35
Id. 7–2.
36
Id. at 4–22.
37
Id. at 4–22.
38
Id. at 4–22.
39
Id. at 4–12.
40
Tregear S, Reed M, Tiller M, and Reston J.,
Vision and Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver
Safety, Volume 1: Evidence Report, McLean, VA:
Manila Consulting Group, Inc. and Plymouth
Meeting, PA: The ECRI Institute, June 6, 2008,
available at https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/16502
(last accessed July 16, 2019).
41
Id. at 2–3.
42
Id. at 3.
43
Id. at 3.
44
Berson F, Owsley C, and Peli E., Vision and
Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Safety, Expert
Panel Recommendations, March 14, 2008, available
at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/
files/docs/MEP-Recommendations-Vision-v2-
prot.pdf (last accessed July 16, 2019). The expert
panel reviewed a draft of the ‘‘Vision and
Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Safety’’ evidence
report. While the expert panel agreed with the
findings of the draft evidence report, the panel
disagreed with the reasoning for including and
excluding several studies. The research team
considered the panel’s criticism and agreed to
amend the report before it was finalized. The
revised executive summary for the 2008 evidence
report is Appendix A of the expert panel
recommendations report and is included in the
final June 2008 evidence report discussed above.
45
Id. at 4.
46
FMCSA Medical Review Board, Meeting
Summary, April 7, 2008, p. 15, available at https://
www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/
April_7_MRB_Meeting_Minutes_71708_Final_
Updated10108.pdf (last accessed July 16, 2019).
47
FMCSA Medical Review Board, MRB Task 15–
02 Report, September 1, 2015, available at https://
www.fmcsa.dot.gov/final-mrb-task-15-02-report
(last accessed July 16, 2019).
collisions than a control set of drivers.
Participation in the exemption program
was shown to have a 94.4 percent
confidence interval of reducing the
number of reported collisions
attributable to the driver.
33
While most
of the analysis compared the exemption
program drivers to the entire set of
control drivers, one analysis compared
a subset of the control drivers who had
no reported collisions during the 3 years
ending on the ‘‘control date’’ of
December 31, 2003, to the exemption
program drivers. The analysis showed
‘‘little difference in reported collision
rate between the program and control
sets.’’
34
Thus, when controlling for
previous collision rates over a 3-year
period, the collision rates for visually
impaired ‘‘safe’’ drivers were not found
to be higher than the non-impaired
‘‘safe’’ drivers.
35
Cambridge Systematics summarized
the findings from the various studies in
the scientific literature into a set of key
points, and stated that ‘‘[a]lmost all of
the studies examined in the area of
vision deficiencies illustrate similar
challenges in the design,
implementation, and patterns of their
findings.’’
36
The challenges were
summarized as confounding factors,
outcome definitions, and impairment
definitions. Confounding effect is
observed when a factor that is not
controlled statistically or by the study
design obscures the effect of treatment.
Examples of such factors impacting the
field of vision and driving were age,
driving exposure, and compensating
behavior. With respect to compensating
behavior, Cambridge Systematics stated
that ‘‘[i]t is well recognized that visually
impaired drivers develop effective
compensatory strategies to
accommodate their impairments.
Therefore, relying on medical test scores
and ignoring actual driving performance
can easily obscure the treatment effect
under study.’’
37
Traffic safety outcomes
may be defined in terms of crashes,
violations, crash or violation rates per
miles driven, performance in on-road
tests and driving simulations, and self-
reported incidence involvement rates
and other habits. However, because ‘‘the
relationship between these outcomes is
not clearly established, making
comparisons across different studies
becomes tenuous.’’
38
Inconsistencies in
impairment definitions and measuring
can result from incorrect reports of the
presence or absence of an eye condition
and the different thresholds used to
designate subjects as impaired or
unimpaired. With respect to monocular
drivers being granted commercial
licenses, Cambridge Systematics
pointed out ‘‘[t]he term ‘monocular’ is
typically used quite broadly in the
research literature on this topic and
denotes drivers who have a total
absence of function in one eye and
additionally those who have visual
function in one eye below the minimum
level for commercial licensing.’’
39
In June 2008, FMCSA received the
final evidence report titled ‘‘Vision and
Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver
Safety’’ prepared by the Manila
Consulting Group, Inc. and the ECRI
Institute.
40
The evidence report
addressed several key questions
developed by FMCSA pertaining to
vision and CMV driver safety by
summarizing the best evidence that was
available in the literature. The key
question relevant to this proposal was
an inquiry to determine whether
monocular vision is associated with an
increased crash risk. Due to
methodological limitations and
inconsistency among the findings of
different studies, the authors concluded
that the evidence was insufficient to
determine whether individuals with
monocular vision were at increased risk
of a crash.
41
The authors identified three studies
that provided crash data for drivers with
monocular vision in general driver
populations. ‘‘Because of a number of
methodological flaws, [the authors’]
confidence in the findings of all three of
the studies [was] low. While two studies
found no evidence to support the
contention that individuals with
monocular vision are at an increased
risk for a motor vehicle crash, the third
study did find an association between
monocular vision and increased crash
risk. Given the low quality of the
included studies and the fact that the
findings of these studies were
inconsistent, [the authors did] not draw
an evidence-based conclusion.’’
42
The
authors stated, however, that ‘‘the
possibility that individuals with
monocular vision have an increased
crash risk cannot be ruled out.’’
43
In March 2008, a medical expert panel
made recommendations, titled ‘‘Vision
and Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver
Safety,’’ associated with the evidence
report for the MRB to consider.
44
With
respect to monocular vision, the panel
agreed that the current evidence was
insufficient to justify a change in the
vision standard. The panel noted that
the evidence report did not rule out the
possibility of increased crash risk for
monocular drivers. Nonetheless, the
panel stated ‘‘that the Exemption
Program should be continued and a
protocol established to obtain the data
necessary for a future
recommendation.’’
45
During an April 2008 meeting, the
MRB made recommendations to the
Agency pertaining to driver vision
requirements based on presentations
and discussions of the 2008 draft
evidence report, the related medical
expert panel recommendations, and
public comment. With respect to
monocular vision, the MRB
recommended that ‘‘[t]he current
standard which precludes individuals
with monocular vision from driving a
CMV for the purposes of interstate
commerce should not be changed at this
time.’’
46
In September 2015, the MRB provided
recommendations to the Agency in
response to MRB Task 15–2, which
requested that the MRB recommend
criteria and identify factors the Agency
should consider in deciding about a
future rulemaking regarding vision
criteria. The MRB provided the
following recommendations:
47
I. If FMCSA considers removing the
current Visual Exemption program, the MRB
recommends the following changes to the
vision standard regulations:
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FMCSA, Safety Performance of Drivers with
Medical Exemptions: How safe are drivers in a
medical exemption program compared to those who
are not?, Analysis Brief (FMCSA RRA–16–019b),
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
Transportation, November 2016, available at
https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/31521 (last
accessed July 16, 2019).
49
Id. at 5, Table 5.
50
See id. at 5–6, Tables 6–8.
51
Id. at 5.
A. Provide a form/questionnaire to the eye
specialist (ophthalmologist or optometrist)
that includes all information required by the
current Visual Exemption program. Form
should be given to the Certified Medical
Examiner (CME).
B. Length of certification with vision
exemption: MRB recommends 1 year but
FMCSA should seek comment from eye
specialist (ophthalmologist or optometrist)
associations on recommended frequency of
examination.
II. FMCSA should seek comment from the
eye specialist (ophthalmologist or
optometrist) associations regarding:
A. Whether there is additional information
that would be useful to collect.
B. What is the minimum amount of time
they would feel comfortable allowing
someone to drive who has sudden change
from binocular vision? (Current Visual
Exemption Program requires a safe driving
record with such an eye condition for 3
years.)
C. Co-condition/disease process.
D. Recommendations on field of vision
criteria (e.g., not supposed to be 70° as stated
in the current vision standard).
The proposed alternative vision
standard incorporates the MRB’s 2015
recommendations.
In November 2016, FMCSA published
an Analysis Brief
48
that reviewed the
safety performance of drivers in the
vision exemption program. The study’s
purpose was to compare the crash rates
of CMV drivers enrolled in the vision
exemption program with drivers not
enrolled in the program. The Agency
assessed drivers in terms of their crash
rates and inspection violation rates.
FMCSA assessed the safety performance
of drivers in the program for 5 years
from 2011 through 2015.
Table 2 compares the crash rate for
drivers in the vision exemption program
to the national crash rate. The data show
that the crash rate for drivers in the
vision exemption program is lower than
the national crash rate.
49
T
ABLE
2—C
RASH
R
ATES FOR
V
ISION
E
XEMPTION
P
ROGRAM
D
RIVERS
C
OMPARED TO
N
ATIONAL
C
RASH
R
ATES
, C
RASHES
PER
D
RIVER PER
Y
EAR
, 2011–2015
Number of
exemption drivers
Number of
exemption driver
crashes
Vision
exemption crash rate
(crashes per driver
per year)
National
average annual
number of drivers
National
average annual
number of crashes
National crash rate
(crashes per driver
per year)
1,117 144 0.02578 4,599,623 143,289 0.03115
The Agency also compared drivers
enrolled in the exemption program to a
control group that was established using
the Driver Information Resource, which
captures drivers’ driving histories.
Drivers were chosen at random and
added to the control group in proportion
to the age and carrier size of the
corresponding exemption program
group until the control group contained
three times as many drivers as the
respective exemption program group. To
determine whether any differences in
crash rates were statistically significant,
FMCSA conducted statistical testing at
the 95 percent confidence level. Table 3
shows the results.
50
T
ABLE
3—C
OMPARISON OF
V
ISION
E
XEMPTION
P
ROGRAM
G
ROUP AND
C
ONTROL
G
ROUP
C
RASH AND
V
IOLATION
R
ATES
Crash or violation rates
Number of
exemption
program group
drivers
Exemption
program group
crash or
violation rate
Control group
crash or
violation rate
Statistically significant
difference
Crash Rates ................................................................................... 680 0.03853 0.02819 Yes.
Violation Rates ............................................................................... 680 1.9721 2.4911 Yes.
Out-of-Service Violation Rates ....................................................... 680 0.22353 0.29870 Yes.
The crash rate for the vision
exemption program group was
statistically different from its control
group, being slightly higher at 0.03853
crashes per driver per year than the
control group rate of 0.02819. ‘‘This
equates to about one more crash per
year for every 100 drivers in the vision
exemption program than for similar
drivers not in the vision exemption
program.’’
51
The driver violation rate
and driver out-of-service violation rate
were lower than the control group, with
the difference being statistically
significant. FMCSA concluded in 2016
that further studies should be done
using larger sample sizes to confirm or
challenge the results from this study.
There are several limitations
regarding the Analysis Brief’s findings.
For example, the crash information did
not consider whether the CMV driver
was at fault in any given crash. It is not
possible to know whether visual
function caused or contributed to the
crash. It also is not possible to
determine whether including only those
drivers who were in the vision
exemption program for the full 5-year
period impacted the results, if at all.
The control group was selected based on
age of the driver and the size of the
employing motor carrier, rather than
individual visual function criteria.
The Agency finds that the increased
crash rate for the vision exemption
program group as compared to its
control group demonstrated in the
Analysis Brief is not cause for concern.
The findings of the Analysis Brief
represent a limited period and are
subject to the additional limitations
discussed previously. FMCSA monitors
the performance of individual drivers in
the vision exemption program
continuously. FMCSA does not have
evidence to suggest drivers in the
exemption program are less safe than
the general population of CMV drivers.
Every year the Agency reports to
Congress regarding the vision
exemptions granted and any impact on
safety. The Agency has consistently
informed Congress that FMCSA has
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FMCSA, Waivers, Exemptions, and Pilot
Programs Annual Reports to Congress Fiscal Years
1999–2013, February 2016, p. 25; Fiscal Year 2014,
April 2017, p. 9; Fiscal Year 2015, May 2017, p. 15;
Fiscal Year 2016, October 2017, p. 11; and Fiscal
Year 2017, September 2018, p. 10. These reports are
available at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/
policy/reports-congress (last accessed July 15,
2019).
53
FMCSA Medical Review Board, Meeting
Minutes, July 15–16, 2019, p. 3, available at https://
www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/2020-
08/MRB-meeting-minutes-july-2019-508c.pdf (last
accessed September 2, 2020).
54
Ball K, Heaton K, McGwin G, Owsley C, and
Stavrinos D., Examining the FMCSA Vision
Standard for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers
(Report No. FMCSA–RRR–19–011).), Washington,
DC: FMCSA, 2019, available at https://
rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/42735 (last accessed
December 09, 2019).
55
The study uses the term ‘‘field of view,’’ which
is synonymous with the FMCSR term ‘‘field of
vision.’’ To avoid confusion, the term is replaced
in this discussion of the study with ‘‘field of
vision.’’
56
FMCSA notes that the study found no evidence
that CMV drivers with monocular vision were at
increased risk of collision. The Agency is not
relying on that finding to support this rulemaking
due to limitations set forth in the study relating to
the study’s design and dataset.
57
Id. at 5.
58
McKnight AJ, Shinar D, and Hilburn B., ‘‘The
visual and driving performance of monocular and
binocular heavy-duty truck drivers,’’ Accident
Analysis & Prevention 23(4), pp. 225–237 (1991).
This study was performed under contract to FHWA.
59
Dionne G, Desjardins D, Laberge-Nadeau C, and
Maag U., ‘‘Medical conditions, risk exposure, and
truck drivers’ accidents: an analysis with count data
regression models,’’ Accident Analysis & Prevention
27(3), pp. 295–305 (1995).
60
Laberge-Nadeau C, Dionne G, Maag U,
Desjardins D, Vanasse C, and E
´koe
´J–M., ‘‘Medical
conditions and the severity of commercial motor
vehicle drivers’ road accidents,’’ Accident Analysis
& Prevention 28(1), pp. 43–51 (1996).
61
Maag U, Vanasse C, Dionne G, and Laberge-
Nadeau C., ‘‘Taxi drivers’ accidents: how binocular
vision problems are related to their rate and severity
in terms of the number of victims,’’ Accident
Analysis & Prevention 29(2), pp. 217–224 (1997).
62
FHWA, Office of Motor Carriers, The Seventh
Monitoring Report on the Drivers of Commercial
Motor Vehicles Who Receive Vision Waivers,
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
Transportation, February 29, 1996.
63
Ball K, Heaton K, McGwin G, Owsley C, and
Stavrinos D., Examining the FMCSA Vision
Standard for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers
(Report No. FMCSA–RRR–19–011), Washington,
DC: FMCSA 2019, p. 5, available at https://
rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/42735 (last accessed
December 09, 2019).
observed no adverse impacts on CMV
safety due to the vision exemption
program.
52
During its June 2018 meeting, the
MRB discussed the MRB Task 15–2
report and was presented draft findings
of a study performed by the University
of Alabama at Birmingham examining
the FMCSA vision standard for CMV
drivers. The MRB made no changes to
its previous recommendations in MRB
Task 15–2.
During its July 2019 meeting, FMCSA
updated the MRB on the University of
Alabama study. The MRB discussed the
draft findings of the study and the
vision exemption program. The MRB
did not change its MRB Task 15–2
recommendations. The MRB continued
the status quo by recommending that
FMCSA maintain the current vision
standard and continue the vision
exemption program. In addition, the
MRB recommended that FMCSA
investigate shortening the 3-year
intrastate driving experience criterion.
The MRB also voted to review the vision
exemption program at a future meeting
when more information is available.
53
In November 2019, FMCSA published
the University of Alabama at
Birmingham report titled ‘‘Examining
the FMCSA Vision Standard for
Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers’’
(Ball et al., 2019).
54
One of the study’s
overall objectives was to determine the
safety efficacy of FMCSA’s current
vision standards. The research team
procured a dataset from a third-party
provider that included all vision-related
data obtained during an FMCSA
physical qualification examination on
nearly 190,000 CMV drivers. The
research team merged the data with
crash records obtained from the Motor
Carrier Management Information System
(MCMIS). From the examination dataset,
the results of vision function testing,
including visual acuity, horizontal field
of vision,
55
color recognition, and
monocular vision, were compared for
drivers who met the vision standard
versus drivers who did not meet the
vision standard. Evidence from the
literature review, consultation with
experts, and analysis of CMV driver
vision and crash data supported the
measurement of visual acuity and
horizontal field of vision using the
current cut-points.
56
As relevant to this proposal, Ball, et
al. (2019) found that the literature
regarding how monocularity impacts
driving performance is mixed.
57
Some
studies suggest that monocularity is not
related to CMV performance decrements
in specific skills such as visual search,
lane placement, clearance judgment, gap
judgment, hazard detection, and
information recognition.
58
The literature
also is mixed with respect to how
monocularity impacts motor vehicle
collision rates, with several studies
finding elevated collision rates or more
severe collisions for monocular
drivers,
59 60 61
and another study
showing that commercial monocular
drivers did not have a higher collision
rate than drivers with normal vision in
both eyes. In that study (discussed
above), FHWA evaluated commercial
vehicle drivers who received waivers of
the CMV driver vision requirements.
62
Results indicated that the waiver
group’s crash rates were not higher than
the national reference group, nor were
their crashes more severe. Ball, et al.
(2019) noted, however, that ‘‘one
limitation of this analysis is that it is
unknown whether the reference group
was similar to the waiver group on other
factors (e.g., age, other visual function
measures) that may be related to crash
risk.’’
63
The report continues that findings
across studies in the literature are
inconsistent with respect to the safety of
monocular drivers, which is not
surprising given that the definition of
monocularity across the studies is not
consistent. The definition of
‘‘monocular’’ is variable and can range
from the total absence of vision in one
eye, to vision in one eye that involves
a lack of binocular visual function, such
as depth perception, or is below some
standard.
FMCSA Conclusions
The foregoing reports and analyses do
not call into question the existence of
the vision exemption program. As early
as 1991, most of the panelists convened
by Ketron agreed there was sufficient
evidence relating to lowered acuity to
change the vision standard to allow
monocular drivers or drivers with vision
substantially worse in one eye. The
1997 Conwal report showed the vision
waiver study program group’s overall
accident rate was lower than the
national rate and FHWA determined the
waiver group did not represent an
increased risk to public safety. In 1998,
a panel of medical experts stated the
data from the vision waiver study
program was ‘‘extremely compelling’’
and clearly supported a new waiver
program.
In 2006, Cambridge Systematics’
review of the vision exemption program
concluded the program did not appear
to impact safety negatively. The 2008
evidence report found the three studies
that provided crash data for drivers with
monocular vision in general driver
populations were insufficient to
determine whether individuals with
monocular vision were at increased risk
of a crash. Because the report did not
provide any conclusions, neither the
medical expert panel nor the MRB
recommended changing the vision
standard. The 2008 medical expert
panel recommended that the exemption
program continue. The MRB has never
recommended that the exemption
program end and has continued its 2015
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recommendations for FMCSA to
consider if it changes the vision
standard.
The reports and analyses discussed
above do not establish strong
relationships between specific measures
of vision and correlates of driver safety.
They do, however, point out the
numerous difficulties associated with
obtaining empirical data to determine
minimum vision criteria and the
methodological flaws associated with
many studies evaluating vision criteria
and crash risk. Most of the available
data come from drivers in general and
not CMV drivers specifically. Usually,
crash information does not indicate
whether the driver was at fault in any
given crash. In addition, it is rarely
possible to determine whether visual
function was the cause of a crash.
Data on the relationship between
monocular vision and crash
involvement is sparse, conflicting with
respect to crash risk, and not definitive.
Moreover, the Agency must exercise
caution when interpreting the data
because of the different definitions of
‘‘monocular vision’’ in the literature.
After full consideration of the
foregoing reports and analyses, FMCSA
finds the experience with the vision
waiver study and exemption programs
is most relevant in establishing an
alternative vision standard. These
programs have allowed FMCSA to
evaluate the vision criteria used in the
programs since 1992 in the context of
actual CMV driving experience.
Considering the long period over which
the programs have operated, FMCSA
has sufficient information to reach
generalized conclusions.
FHWA and FMCSA monitored the
safety performance of drivers in the
vision waiver study and the current
exemption programs continuously.
Based on the experience with the vision
waiver study and exemption programs,
FMCSA has determined that the safety
performance of individuals in these
programs is at least as good as that of
the general population of CMV drivers.
Indeed, the Agency has continued to
grant vision exemptions because
experience has shown that individuals
with vision loss in one eye are not
limited by their lack of binocularity
with respect to driving once they have
adapted to and compensated for the
change in vision.
The Agency’s ability to draw on its
experience from the vision waiver study
and exemption programs to develop
modifications of the existing standard is
consistent with one of the purposes of
the authority provided by the enactment
of TEA–21 that established a new
process for granting regulatory
exemptions in 49 U.S.C. 31315. TEA–21
gave the Agency ‘‘broader discretion to
grant waivers and exemptions from
motor carrier and driver safety
regulations which are necessary to
develop performance based regulations
and evaluate the effectiveness of
existing regulations.’’ H. Report 105–550
at 489 (1998).
Accordingly, the Agency proposes to
adopt most of the existing vision
exemption program criteria and modify
other of the criteria as a vision standard
to be applied in lieu of the vision
exemption program. Therefore, the
alternative vision standard would
require individuals, to be physically
qualified, to have in the better eye
distant visual acuity of at least 20/40
(Snellen) (with or without corrective
lenses) and field of vision of at least 70
degrees in the horizontal meridian; the
ability to recognize the colors of traffic
signals and devices showing standard
red, green, and amber; stability of the
vision deficiency; and sufficient time to
adapt to and compensate for the change
in vision. Instead of requiring 3 years of
intrastate driving experience with the
vision deficiency, with limited
exceptions, individuals physically
qualified under the proposed alternative
vision standard for the first time would
complete a road test before operating in
interstate commerce. FMCSA expects
that individuals who satisfy these
criteria would not create an increased
risk of injury to themselves or others
due to their vision.
VII. Rationale for Proposed
Qualification Standard
The Agency proposes to adopt most of
the existing vision exemption program
criteria and to modify other program
criteria as an alternative vision
standard. The proposed standard takes a
performance-based approach. The
standard emphasizes that the individual
has developed the skills to adapt to and
compensate for the vision loss once it
has been deemed stable by a medical
professional, and that the individual has
demonstrated the skills to operate a
CMV safely. The ME would ensure the
individual is physically qualified to
operate a CMV in accordance with the
physical qualification standards. Motor
carriers would maintain the
responsibility for reviewing the
individual’s safety performance and,
with limited exceptions, would conduct
a road test for individuals.
A. Individuals Adapt to and
Compensate for Vision Loss
As stated above, it is well recognized
that individuals with vision loss in one
eye can and do develop compensatory
viewing behavior to mitigate the vision
loss. Therefore, if an individual meets
the proposed vision standard, the
Agency expects there will be no adverse
impact on safety due to the individual’s
vision. That is, once an individual’s
vision is stable and the individual has
adapted to and compensated for the
change in vision, the loss in vision is
not likely to play a significant role in
whether the individual can drive a CMV
safely.
Instead of requiring 3 years of
intrastate driving experience with the
vision deficiency as in the current
exemption program, FMCSA proposes
that individuals physically qualified
under the proposed alternative vision
standard for the first time satisfactorily
complete a road test before operating in
interstate commerce. Individuals would
be excepted from the road test
requirement if they have 3 years of
intrastate or excepted interstate CMV
driving experience with the vision
deficiency, hold a valid Federal vision
exemption, or are medically certified
under § 391.64(b). These individuals
have already demonstrated they can
operate a CMV safely with the vision
deficiency.
The requirement for 3 years of
intrastate driving experience with the
vision deficiency has been equated to
sufficient time for the driver to adapt to
and compensate for the change in
vision. FHWA stated the 3-year safe
driving history with the vision
deficiency requirement was based on
studies ‘‘indicating that past experience
can be used to predict future
performance, especially when combined
with other predictive factors such as
geographic location, mileage driven, and
conviction history’’ (59 FR 50887,
50888, October 6, 1994). FHWA
continued that it relied on opinions
from the medical community that
individuals with a vision deficiency are
often able to compensate for their
impairment over time. ‘‘Because of the
discrepancy as to how much time is
necessary to allow an individual to
compensate for an impairment (which
generally ranged from several months to
a full year), [FHWA’s] choice of three
years provided added assurance that
drivers would have had sufficient time
to develop compensatory behavior. It
was also the longest period for which
driver histories were uniformly
available from State motor vehicle
departments’’ (59 FR 50888–89).
Although it was considered
appropriate for FHWA to proceed
conservatively and to ensure adequate
time for individuals to adapt to and
compensate for vision changes when
beginning the waiver study program, it
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64
Coday MP, Warner MA, Jahrlin KV, and Rubin
PA, ‘‘Acquired Monocular Vision: Functional
Consequences from the Patient’s Perspective,’’
Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,
18(1), pp. 56–63 (2002), available at https://
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11910326 (last
accessed March 24, 2020).
65
On December 18, 2013, FMCSA proposed
changes to the eligibility requirements for the
exemption program. As relevant here, FMCSA
proposed to reduce the length of driving experience
to 1 year of intrastate driving experience with the
stable visual deficiency or to remove the driving
experience criterion altogether (78 FR 76590,
76592). The American Optometric Association
supported removing the requirement for a specific
amount of driving experience, in part, because an
examination by an ophthalmologist or optometrist
within the prior 3 months from the date of
application would help to assess whether the driver
had experienced recent vision deterioration. This
comment is available in docket number FMCSA–
2013–0097 at https://www.regulations.gov/
document?D=FMCSA-2013-0097-0004 (last
accessed March 13, 2020).
appears that the primary factor in
selecting the 3 years of intrastate driving
experience criterion was that it
coincided with the typical period of
motor vehicle driving histories. Three
years of experience driving with the
vision deficiency exceeded by several
months to a full year, according to
opinions of the medical community, the
period necessary to compensate for the
vision loss. Eliminating the driving
experience criterion would not allow
potentially hazardous drivers to
participate in interstate commerce
because medical professionals would
ensure drivers have had the time to
adapt to and compensate for the vision
change. The driving experience criterion
has the limitation that many drivers are
not able to obtain intrastate driving
experience because not all States issue
vision waivers. For these reasons,
FMCSA is not proposing to continue the
exemption program’s requirement for 3
years of intrastate driving experience
with the vision deficiency in the
alternative vision standard.
Nonetheless, it is reasonable to ensure
an individual possesses the skills
needed to operate a CMV safely with the
vision deficiency.
As an alternative to the 3 years of
intrastate driving experience criterion,
FMCSA proposes, with limited
exceptions, that individuals physically
qualified under the alternative vision
standard for the first time satisfactorily
complete a road test before operating in
interstate commerce. The road test
would be conducted in accordance with
the road test already required by
§ 391.31. When FHWA adopted the road
test in § 391.31, it stated that the
interests of CMV safety would be
promoted by ensuring drivers have
demonstrated their skill by completing
the road test (35 FR 6458, 6450 (April
22, 1970)). FMCSA finds that a road test
would be an appropriate indicator of an
individual’s ability to operate a CMV
safely with the vision deficiency. Thus,
the Agency expects there will be no
adverse impact on safety from
eliminating the intrastate driving
experience criterion.
The proposed alternative vision
standard also would not continue the 3-
year safe driving history criterion.
Selecting only drivers with a history of
safe driving to participate in the vision
waiver study program allowed FHWA to
focus on the impact of vision on driving.
After nearly 30 years with the vision
waiver study and exemption programs,
experience has shown that individuals
with vision loss in one eye are not
limited by their lack of binocularity
with respect to driving once they have
adapted to and compensated for the
change in vision. Accordingly, the 3-
year safe driving history criterion has
served its purpose and is no longer
necessary.
FMCSA declines to propose specific
periods for which an individual’s vision
deficiency must be stable and for what
constitutes sufficient time to adapt to
and compensate for the change in
vision. The causes of vision loss are
many and varied. Vision loss may be
present at birth, the result of trauma,
due to medical treatment intervention,
or the result of a progressive eye
condition or disease. The cause of the
vision loss is a primary factor in how
long it takes for an individual to adapt
to and compensate for the change in
vision. In general, those who experience
sudden loss of vision in one eye require
more time to adapt to and compensate
for the change than those who lose their
vision gradually. For example, Coday, et
al. (2002) found the time for patients to
adapt to sudden vision loss was 8.8
months and to adapt to gradual vision
loss was 3.6 months.
64
Therefore, the Agency proposes that
medical decisions regarding whether an
individual’s vision deficiency is stable
and whether the individual has adapted
to and compensated for the change in
vision be made by medical
professionals. These medical decisions
should be based on an individualized
assessment by a medical professional
rather than a regulation.
65
B. MEs Would Make the Qualification
Determination
The proposed alternative vision
standard would place the case-by-case
physical qualification determination
with the ME who examines the
individual, which is consistent with
FMCSA’s rule to adopt an alternative
physical qualification standard for
individuals with insulin-treated
diabetes mellitus (see 83 FR 47486,
September 19, 2018). Thus, licensed
healthcare professionals listed on the
Agency’s National Registry of Certified
Medical Examiners (National Registry)
would consider the information in the
Vision Evaluation Report, Form MCSA–
5871, and determine whether an
individual meets the proposed vision
standard. This approach of MEs making
the physical qualification
determination, instead of FMCSA, is
consistent with Congress’s directive in
49 U.S.C. 31149(d) to have trained and
certified MEs assess the individual’s
health status. In addition, the proposed
process would create a clear and
consistent framework to assist MEs with
making a physical qualification
determination that is equally as effective
as a program based entirely on granting
exemptions under 49 U.S.C. 31315(b).
C. Review of an Individual’s Safety
Performance Would Continue
FMCSA is not proposing to change
the current regulations that require
motor carriers to review an individual’s
safety performance. FMCSA has
regulatory requirements in place to
ensure that motor carriers review the
safety performance of all their drivers.
For example, motor carriers are required
to review both the motor vehicle records
and the safety performance history,
which must include accident
information, from previous employers
for the prior 3 years when hiring a
driver (49 CFR 391.23(a) and (d)). Also,
motor carriers are required to review the
motor vehicle records for all drivers
annually (49 CFR 391.25). In addition,
the road test would demonstrate
whether individuals are able to operate
a CMV safely with the vision deficiency.
As previously stated, the 3-year safe
driving history criterion has served its
purpose and is no longer necessary.
Accordingly, the safety performance of
individuals who can satisfy the
proposed alternative vision standard
should be evaluated in the same manner
as other drivers.
VIII. Discussion of Proposed Rule
FMCSA elects to respond to the
MRB’s request to investigate shortening
the 3-year intrastate driving experience
criterion and to provide more
information about the vision exemption
program by publishing this NPRM and
proposing a rule that includes the
MRB’s 2015 recommendations. This
approach provides the MRB with
background on the exemption program,
summaries of prior reports and analyses,
a specific proposal and its rationale to
consider, and public comment on the
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FMCSA notes that proceeding with an NPRM
is also responsive to stakeholder comment. For
example, in the rulemaking to change the physical
qualification standard relating to insulin-treated
diabetes mellitus, the American Trucking
Associations, Inc. (‘‘ATA’’) commented that it was
pleased that FMCSA was using the rulemaking
process to adjust that standard. Additionally, ATA
‘‘implore[d] FMCSA to also conduct rulemaking on
its other ‘absolute’ medical standards for which it
is currently issuing exemptions en masse including
the vision and hearing standards.’’ ATA continued
that ‘‘[e]xemptions from these medical standards
only create confusion in the industry as to what
constitutes a medically safe driver and what does
not. It also creates an unnecessary, but easily
solvable, predicament for motor carriers.’’ This
comment is available in docket number FMCSA–
2005–23151 at https://www.regulations.gov/
document?D=FMCSA-2005-23151-0960 (last access
March 13, 2020).
proposal.
66
As noted above, the Agency
will follow a rulemaking process like
the one used when FMCSA adopted the
alternative physical qualification
standard for insulin-treated diabetes
mellitus. After the public comment
period closes, FMCSA will ask the MRB
to review all comments to the NPRM
from medical professionals and
associations. If after that review the
MRB makes material changes to its prior
recommendations in MRB Task 15–2,
FMCSA will publish a Federal Register
notice announcing the availability of the
new MRB recommendations and request
public comment specific to those
recommendations.
FMCSA proposes to establish an
alternative physical qualification
standard for individuals who cannot
satisfy either the distant visual acuity or
field of vision standard, or both, in
§ 391.41(b)(10) in one eye. If adopted,
the alternative vision standard would
replace the current vision exemption
program as a basis for determining the
physical qualification of these
individuals to operate a CMV. It also
would eliminate the need for the
grandfather provisions under
§ 391.64(b). The proposed alternative
vision standard would enhance
employment opportunities and reduce
the paperwork burden for drivers, while
remaining consistent with FMCSA’s
safety mission.
Specifically, the Agency proposes to
adopt most of the existing vision
exemption program criteria and modify
other of the criteria as a vision standard
to be applied in lieu of the vision
exemption program. The alternative
vision standard would require
individuals, to be physically qualified,
to have in the better eye distant visual
acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) (with
or without corrective lenses) and field of
vision of at least 70 degrees in the
horizontal meridian; the ability to
recognize the colors of traffic signals
and devices showing standard red,
green, and amber; stability of the vision
deficiency; and sufficient time to adapt
to and compensate for the change in
vision. With limited exceptions, FMCSA
also would require individuals
physically qualified under the proposed
alternative vision standard for the first
time to complete a road test
administered by the motor carrier
satisfactorily before operating in
interstate commerce.
A. Proposed Physical Qualification
Process
FMCSA proposes a two-step process
for physical qualification. The process
would be analogous to what the Agency
adopted in § 391.46 for individuals with
insulin-treated diabetes mellitus (see 83
FR 47486, September 19, 2018). First, an
individual seeking physical
qualification would obtain a vision
evaluation from an ophthalmologist or
optometrist who would record the
findings and provide specific medical
opinions on the proposed Vision
Evaluation Report, Form MCSA–5871,
which incorporates the
recommendations of the MRB. Next, at
a physical qualification examination, an
ME would consider the information
provided on the vision report and
exercise independent medical judgment
to determine whether the individual
meets the proposed vision standard, as
well as FMCSA’s other physical
qualification standards. If the ME
determines that the individual meets the
physical qualification standards to
operate a CMV safely, the ME could
issue an MEC, Form MCSA–5876, for a
maximum of 12 months.
FMCSA is not proposing changes to
the current vision standard found in
§ 391.41(b)(10). The current standard
would be redesignated as paragraph
(b)(10)(i). An alternative vision standard
would be added in paragraph (b)(10)(ii)
to allow an individual who cannot
satisfy either the distant visual acuity or
field of vision standard, or both, in one
eye to be physically qualified if the
individual satisfies the requirements of
proposed § 391.44.
Proposed § 391.44 would set forth the
provisions of the alternative vision
standard. It would provide that an
individual who cannot satisfy either the
current distant visual acuity or field of
vision standard, or both, in one eye is
physically qualified to operate a CMV in
interstate commerce if the individual (1)
meets FMCSA’s other physical
qualification standards in § 391.41 (or
has an exemption or skill performance
evaluation certificate, if required), and
(2) has the vision evaluation and
medical examination required by
§ 391.44.
Individuals would be evaluated by a
licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist
no more than 45 days before each
annual or more frequent examination by
an ME. Even individuals who have a
non-functional eye or have lost an eye
would be required to undergo vision
evaluations at least annually. Because of
the potential for vision changes in the
remaining eye, it is important to
monitor that eye’s compliance with the
vision standard.
During the vision evaluation, the
ophthalmologist or optometrist would
complete the proposed Vision
Evaluation Report, Form MCSA–5871.
The report’s instructions to the
ophthalmologist or optometrist state
that completion of the report does not
imply that the ophthalmologist or
optometrist is making a decision to
qualify the individual to drive a CMV.
The instructions state further that any
determination as to whether the
individual is physically qualified to
drive a CMV will be made by an ME.
The Agency is aware that the
definition of ‘‘monocular vision’’ varies;
therefore, the proposed Vision
Evaluation Report, Form MCSA–5871,
includes FMCSA’s definition of the
term. The report defines monocular
vision as (1) in the better eye, distant
visual acuity of at least 20/40 (with or
without corrective lenses) and field of
vision of at least 70 degrees in the
horizontal meridian, and (2) in the
worse eye, either a distant visual acuity
of less than 20/40 (with or without
corrective lenses) or field of vision of
less than 70 degrees in the horizontal
meridian, or both. FMCSA’s monocular
vision definition has been applied
consistently for nearly 30 years.
The proposed Vision Evaluation
Report, Form MCSA–5871, includes
instructions to the individual regarding
the timeframe for providing the report to
the ME. The individual would be
required to begin the physical
qualification examination no later than
45 calendar days after the
ophthalmologist or optometrist signs
and dates the report, after which time
the Vision Evaluation Report is no
longer valid. This timeframe would
ensure the ME is receiving the results of
a recent vision evaluation.
The Vision Evaluation Report, Form
MCSA–5871, collects the individual’s
name, date of birth, driver’s license
number, and State of issuance. In
addition, the report collects the
following information:
(1) Whether the individual completing the
report is an ophthalmologist or an
optometrist;
(2) The date of the vision evaluation;
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(3) The distant visual acuity in each eye
(corrected and uncorrected), and, if
corrected, the type of correction;
(4) The field of vision, including central
and peripheral fields in each eye, utilizing a
testing modality that tests to at least 120
degrees in the horizontal. A formal perimetry
test interpreted in degrees is required and
must be attached to the report;
(5) Whether the individual can recognize
red, green, and amber colors;
(6) The date of the last comprehensive eye
examination;
(7) Whether the individual has monocular
vision as defined by FMCSA;
(8) The cause of the monocular vision;
(9) When the monocular vision began;
(10) The current treatment for the
monocular vision;
(11) A medical opinion regarding whether
the vision deficiency is stable;
(12) A medical opinion regarding whether
sufficient time has passed to allow the
individual to adapt to and compensate for the
change in vision; and
(13) Information regarding progressive eye
conditions and diseases, including the date
of diagnosis, severity, current treatment,
whether the condition is stable, and a
medical opinion regarding whether a vision
evaluation is required more often than
annually, and if so, how often.
The report requires the individual
completing the report to attest that the
individual is an ophthalmologist or
optometrist and that the information
provided is true and correct to the best
of the individual’s knowledge. The
report includes the date, printed name
and medical credential of the
ophthalmologist or optometrist,
signature, professional license number
and issuing State, phone number, and
email and street addresses. The report
would be available on FMCSA’s
website.
The draft Vision Evaluation Report,
Form MCSA–5871, is available in the
docket for this rulemaking. The Agency
seeks public comment on the substance
and form of the report, as well as the
four questions posed in section XI.G.
below, relating to the information
collection titled ‘‘Medical Qualification
Requirements,’’ regarding FMCSA’s
request for OMB approval of the report
and related information collection
under the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Under the proposed regulation, the
individual examined, ophthalmologist,
or optometrist could provide the signed
report to an ME. An ME would have to
receive a completed report for each
examination of an individual needing
evaluation under § 391.44. A report
would be considered complete when a
response is provided to all data fields
and the ophthalmologist or optometrist
signs, dates, and provides his or her full
name, office address, and telephone
number on the report. The report would
be treated as part of the Medical
Examination Report Form, MCSA–5875,
and would be retained by the ME for at
least 3 years from the date of the
examination as required by 49 CFR
391.43(i).
Under the alternative vision standard,
an individual would be medically
examined and certified by an ME at
least annually as physically qualified to
operate a CMV. The ME would
determine whether the individual meets
the physical qualification standards in
§ 391.41. In making that determination,
the ME would consider the information
in the Vision Evaluation Report, Form
MCSA–5871, and utilize independent
medical judgment to apply the
following four standards proposed in
§ 391.44:
(1) The individual would not be physically
qualified to operate a CMV if in the better eye
the distant visual acuity is not at least 20/40
(Snellen), with or without corrective lenses,
and the field of vision is not at least 70
degrees in the horizontal meridian.
(2) The individual would not be physically
qualified to operate a CMV if the individual
is not able to recognize the colors of traffic
signals and devices showing standard red,
green, and amber.
(3) The individual would not be physically
qualified to operate a CMV if the individual’s
vision deficiency is not stable.
(4) The individual would not be physically
qualified to operate a CMV if there has not
been sufficient time to allow the individual
to adapt to and compensate for the change in
vision.
The ME would consider the data and
medical opinions provided by the
ophthalmologist or optometrist to assist
in making a qualification determination.
The Vision Evaluation Report, Form
MCSA–5871, should include sufficient
information for the ME to determine
whether the opinions expressed by the
ophthalmologist or optometrist appear
informed and appropriate.
Consistent with current practice for
any medical condition, if the ME
determines that additional information
is necessary to make the qualification
determination, the ME could confer
with the ophthalmologist or optometrist
for additional information concerning
the individual’s related vision medical
history and status, make requests for
other appropriate referrals, or request
medical records from the individual’s
treating provider, all with appropriate
consent. Because the ME is
knowledgeable about the physical
requirements to operate a CMV and the
physical qualification regulations, the
ME would continue to determine
whether an individual meets FMCSA’s
physical qualification standards.
In addition to adding the alternative
vision standard in § 391.44, the
proposed rule would add a paragraph in
§ 391.45 that would require individuals
physically qualified under proposed
§ 391.44 to be medically examined and
certified at least annually. As with any
individual, an ME would have
discretion to certify an individual for
less than the maximum year if medical
conditions warrant.
B. Road Test in Accordance With 49
CFR 391.31
With limited exceptions, FMCSA
proposes that individuals physically
qualified under the alternative vision
standard for the first time must
successfully complete a road test before
operating a CMV in interstate
commerce. The road test would
demonstrate individuals are able to
operate a CMV safely with the vision
deficiency. Once an individual is
physically qualified under § 391.44 for
the first time and receives an MEC,
Form MCSA–5876, the individual
would consult § 391.44(d) to determine
whether a road test may be required.
The ME issuing the MEC, Form MCSA–
5876, would have no role with respect
to the road test.
Paragraph (d)(1) would provide the
general rule that, subject to limited
exceptions, an individual physically
qualified under § 391.44 for the first
time could not drive a CMV until the
individual has successfully completed a
subsequent road test and has been
issued a certificate of driver’s road test
in accordance with § 391.31. Such an
individual would be required to inform
the motor carrier responsible for
completing the road test under
§ 391.31(b) when the individual is
required by § 391.44(d) to have a road
test. Motor carriers would conduct the
road test and issue a certificate of
driver’s road test in accordance with
§ 391.31(b) thorough (g). Motor carriers
are currently required to conduct a road
test under § 391.31 when they hire a
new driver, subject primarily to
exceptions in § 391.33. Therefore, many
motor carriers and drivers are already
familiar with the road test and related
documentation requirements.
Section 391.31(b) provides the road
test must be given by the motor carrier
employing the individual or a person
designated by the motor carrier. If the
individual is also a motor carrier (e.g.,
an owner-operator), the road test must
be given by a person other than the
individual. The road test must be given
by a person competent to evaluate and
determine whether the individual taking
the test demonstrated that the
individual is capable of operating the
CMV, and associated equipment, the
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motor carrier intends to assign to the
individual for operation.
The road test also must be of
sufficient duration to enable the person
giving it to evaluate the skill of the
individual taking it at handling the
CMV, and associated equipment, the
motor carrier intends to assign to the
individual (49 CFR 391.31(c)). At a
minimum, the road test must include:
(1) The pre-trip inspection required by
§ 392.7;
(2) Coupling and uncoupling of
combination units (if the equipment the
individual may drive includes combination
units);
(3) Placing the CMV in operation;
(4) Use of the CMV’s controls and
emergency equipment;
(5) Operating the CMV in traffic and while
passing other motor vehicles;
(6) Turning the CMV;
(7) Braking and slowing the CMV by means
other than braking; and
(8) Backing and parking the CMV.
The motor carrier provides a road test
form on which the person giving the
road test rates the individual taking it at
each operation that is a part of the test.
The person giving the test signs the form
once it is complete (49 CFR 391.31(d)).
If the road test is successfully
completed, the person giving it
completes a certificate of driver’s road
test in substantially the form prescribed
in § 391.31(f) (49 CFR 391.31(e)). A copy
of the certificate of driver’s road test is
given to the individual tested (49 CFR
391.31(g)). The motor carrier retains in
the individual’s driver qualification file
the original of the signed road test form
and the original, or a copy, of the
certificate of driver’s road test (49 CFR
391.31(g)(1) and (2)).
The Agency seeks public comment on
the information collection associated
with the § 391.31 road test, particularly
as required by proposed § 391.44 and
the exception to the road test for
intrastate and excepted interstate
drivers discussed below. The
information collection titled ‘‘391.31
Road Test Requirement’’ is described in
section XI.G. below regarding FMCSA’s
request for OMB approval of the
information collection under the
Paperwork Reduction Act. Also, the
draft supporting statement for the
information collection is available in the
docket for this rulemaking.
Paragraph (d)(2) would provide that
the alternatives to a § 391.31 road test in
§ 391.33 do not apply to individuals
required to have a road test by
§ 391.44(d). Accordingly, a motor carrier
could not accept certain CDLs or a copy
of a certificate of driver’s road test
issued within the preceding 3 years as
an alternative to the required road test.
However, after an individual required to
have a road test by § 391.44(d)
successfully completes a road test and is
issued a certificate of driver’s road test
in accordance with § 391.31 once, the
provisions of § 391.33 would apply to
the individual as they would normally
operate. FMCSA notes that motor
carriers always have the option to
require any individual to take a road test
as a condition of employment (see 49
CFR 391.33(c)).
Paragraphs (3), (4), and (5) of
§ 391.44(d) would provide exceptions to
the general requirement for a road test.
These individuals would be excepted
because they have already demonstrated
they can operate a CMV safely with the
vision deficiency. Accordingly, a road
test would not be necessary.
Paragraph (3) would except an
individual from the road test
requirement if the motor carrier
determines the individual possessed a
valid CDL or non-CDL to operate, and
did operate, a CMV in either intrastate
commerce or in interstate commerce
excepted by § 390.3T(f) or §391.2 from
the requirements of 49 CFR part 391,
subpart E, with the vision deficiency for
the 3-year period immediately
preceding the date of physical
qualification under § 391.44 for the first
time. To qualify for the exception, the
individual would certify in writing to
the motor carrier the date the vision
deficiency began. The motor carrier
would review employment information
to determine whether the individual
operated a CMV for the required 3 years
with the vision deficiency. Many motor
carriers would use employment
information obtained when
investigating the individual’s safety
performance history from previous
employers for the prior 3 years when
hiring a driver, as required by
§ 391.23(a)(2) and (d).
If the motor carrier determines the
individual operated a CMV in intrastate
or excepted interstate commerce with
the vision deficiency for the required 3
years, the motor carrier would prepare
a written statement to that effect with
the finding that the individual is not
required by § 391.44(d) to complete a
road test. A copy of the written
statement would be provided to the
individual. The motor carrier would
retain the original of the written
statement and the original, or a copy, of
the individual’s certification regarding
the date the vision deficiency began in
the driver qualification file. Section
391.51, which provides what documents
must be included in a driver
qualification file, would be amended to
include the written statement and
certification.
Paragraphs (4) and (5) of § 391.44(d),
respectively, would except individuals
holding a valid Federal vision
exemption or medically certified under
§ 391.64(b) on the effective date of any
final rule from the requirement to have
a road test. Such individuals would not
be required to inform the motor carrier
that they are excepted from the
requirement in § 391.44(d)(1) to have a
road test.
The development of this proposed
rule provided FMCSA with the
opportunity to review § 391.31 in the
context of current privacy
considerations. Section 391.31(e)
provides that, if the road test is
successfully completed, the motor
carrier must complete a certificate of
driver’s road test ‘‘substantially’’ in the
form prescribed in paragraph (f).
Paragraph (f) provides a Certification of
Road Test that lists, in part, the driver’s
social security number, the driver’s
license number, and the State of
issuance of the driver’s license. Because
the road test is completed when hiring
a driver, the motor carrier already
would have collected this information
on other employment documents. The
motor carrier also would have verified
the identity of the driver and that the
driver has a driver’s license.
Accordingly, FMCSA proposes to
remove this information from the list in
paragraph (f) because it is unnecessary
and duplicative.
C. Elimination of Vision Exemption
Program and Grandfather Provisions
The proposed rule would eliminate
the need for the current vision
exemption program and the grandfather
provisions of § 391.64(b). As discussed
above in the background section of this
NPRM, drivers who participated in the
Agency’s vision waiver study program
and were holding valid waivers from the
vision standard on March 31, 1996
could continue to operate in interstate
commerce under the grandfather
provisions of § 391.64(b). If the
proposed rule is adopted, the Agency
believes the grandfathering provisions
would be redundant. Therefore, FMCSA
proposes that the approximately 1,900
individuals physically qualified under
§ 391.64(b) would have 1 year after the
effective date of any final rule to comply
with the rule. During that transition
year, grandfathered individuals could
elect to seek physical qualification
through the final rule or § 391.64. This
transition year would provide time to
learn the new process for individuals
whose MEC, Form MCSA–5876, expires
near the time any final rule becomes
effective. However, 1 year after the
effective date of the final rule all MECs,
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As discussed below in the Paperwork
Reduction Act section XI.G. regarding the Medical
Qualification Requirements information collection,
FMCSA attributes 2,236 annual burden hours at a
cost of $69,136 for drivers to obtain and maintain
a vision exemption. The proposed rule would
eliminate this entire burden.
68
The fact that some States have vision waiver
programs for intrastate CMV drivers provides
additional evidence that individuals who cannot
meet either FMCSA’s distant visual acuity or field
of vision standard, or both, in one eye are driving
safely in intrastate commerce. When FMCSA
proposed changes to the eligibility requirements for
the exemption program in December 2013, an
individual commented that he did not understand
why FMCSA requires driving experience when his
State issues a waiver without driving experience.
The comment is available in docket number
FMCSA–2013–0097 at https://www.regulations.gov/
document?D=FMCSA-2013-0097-0003.
Form MCSA–5876, issued under
§ 391.64(b) would become void.
FMCSA anticipates that individuals
physically qualified under § 391.64(b)
would not be adversely affected by the
proposed action. Grandfathered drivers
are already required to obtain annual
vision evaluations performed by an
ophthalmologist or optometrist before
their physical qualification
examinations and the proposed rule
includes similar qualification criteria.
However, FMCSA seeks public
comment regarding whether the
proposed alternative vision standard
would adversely affect any driver who
is operating currently under § 391.64(b).
Similarly, the 2,566 vision exemption
holders would have 1 year after the
effective date of any final rule to comply
with the rule, at which time all
exemptions issued under 49 U.S.C.
31315(b) would become void. Drivers
who hold a vision exemption would be
notified by letter with details of the
transition to the new standard.
D. Change to the Medical Examination
Process in 49 CFR 391.43(b)(1)
The Agency proposes to amend
§ 391.43(b)(1) by adding an
ophthalmologist as a category of eye
care professional who may perform the
part of the physical qualification
examination that involves visual acuity,
field of vision, and the ability to
recognize colors. Currently, the
provision is limited to licensed
optometrists. When § 391.43(a) was
adopted in 1970, it provided that the
medical examination must be performed
by a doctor of medicine or osteopathy,
which allowed an ophthalmologist to
perform any part of the examination (35
FR 6458, 6463, April 22, 1970). An
exception was provided in paragraph (b)
to allow optometrists to perform the part
of the medical examination that
involves visual acuity, field of vision,
and the ability to recognize colors.
Section 391.43 has been amended
several times since 1970 and now
provides that the medical examination
must be performed by an ME listed on
the National Registry. The Agency did
not amend § 391.43 at the time of the
prior amendments to continue to allow
ophthalmologists to perform the vision
portion of the medical examination.
Accordingly, the proposed rule would
correct that oversight.
E. Benefits of the Proposal to Drivers
The physical qualification process
proposed in § 391.44 would eliminate
the need for individuals to obtain and
renew an exemption. Drivers would no
longer be required to create and
assemble the substantial amount of
information and documentation
necessary to apply for or renew an
exemption, or to respond to subsequent
requests for information.
67
Publishing
personal and medical information in the
Federal Register and seeking public
comment about drivers would be
discontinued. Also, individuals would
no longer be required to carry a copy of
the vision exemption when on duty as
required by § 391.41(a)(1)(ii) and (2)(iii)
or provide a copy to their employers.
Eliminating the prohibition on
certifying individuals who cannot meet
either the current visual acuity or field
of vision standard, or both, in one eye
(without an exemption) would enable
more qualified individuals to operate as
interstate CMV drivers without
compromising safety. The criterion that
an individual should have 3 years of
experience driving a CMV with the
vision deficiency precludes many
individuals from being eligible to obtain
a Federal exemption. The only way for
an individual to get the CMV driving
experience is to obtain intrastate driving
experience. To do that, the individual
must obtain a State vision waiver to
operate in intrastate commerce, but not
all States issue vision waivers.
68
The
road test alternative addresses this
limitation and is much less burdensome
than obtaining 3 years of intrastate
driving experience. Thus, the proposed
rule would provide an opportunity to
operate as an interstate CMV driver
regardless of the driver’s State of
domicile. Individuals who live in a
State that issues vision waivers also
would be able to begin a career as an
interstate CMV driver more quickly and
may have more employment
opportunities.
Previously qualified interstate CMV
drivers who are no longer able to meet
either the distant visual acuity or field
of vision standard, or both, in one eye
would be able to return to operating
interstate sooner. Currently, such
individuals would have to obtain 3
years of intrastate CMV driving
experience, assuming they lived in a
State that offers vision waivers, once
their vision is stable and they have had
time to adapt to and accommodated for
the change in their vision before they
would be eligible to obtain a Federal
exemption and return to interstate
driving.
IX. Section-by-Section Analysis
This section includes a summary of
the proposed changes to 49 CFR part
391. The regulatory changes proposed
will be discussed first in numerical
order, followed by a discussion of
proposed changes to Agency guidance.
A. Regulatory Provisions
Section 391.31 Road Test
In § 391.31, paragraph (f) would be
amended by removing the entries for the
driver’s social security number, the
driver’s license number, and the State of
issuance of the driver’s license from the
Certification of Road Test. A new
paragraph (h) would be added that
provides OMB reviewed the information
collection requirements in § 391.31 and
assigned an OMB control number.
Section 391.41 Physical Qualifications
for Drivers
In § 391.41(b)(10), the current vision
standard would be renumbered as
paragraph (b)(10)(i) without any textual
changes. An alternative standard would
be added in paragraph (b)(10)(ii) that
would allow an individual who cannot
satisfy either the current distant visual
acuity or field of vision standard, or
both, in one eye to be physically
qualified under proposed § 391.44.
Section 391.43 Medical Examination;
Certificate of Physical Examination
In § 391.43(b)(1), an ophthalmologist
would be added as a category of eye care
professional who may perform the part
of the physical qualification
examination that involves visual acuity,
field of vision, and the ability to
recognize colors. Textual changes also
would be made to improve readability.
Section 391.44 Physical Qualification
Standards for an Individual Who Cannot
Satisfy Either the Distant Visual Acuity
or Field of Vision Standard, or Both, in
One Eye
A new § 391.44 would be added.
Paragraph (a) would apply so an
individual who cannot satisfy either the
current distant visual acuity or field of
vision standard, or both, in one eye can
be physically qualified to operate a
CMV in interstate commerce. Such an
individual would be physically
qualified if the individual meets the
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See https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/medical/driver-
medical-requirements/what-are-physical-
qualification-requirements-operating-cmv (last
accessed August 20, 2020).
other physical qualification standards in
§ 391.41(b) (or has an exemption or skill
performance evaluation certificate, if
required), and has the vision evaluation
and medical examination required by
paragraphs (b) and (c), respectively.
Paragraph (b) would require the
individual to have a vision evaluation
completed by a licensed
ophthalmologist or optometrist before
each physical qualification examination.
The ophthalmologist or optometrist
would complete the proposed Vision
Evaluation Report, Form MCSA–5871,
during the individual’s evaluation,
including signing and dating the report
and providing business contact
information.
Paragraph (c) would set forth the
requirements for the ME’s examination,
including that the examination must
begin no later than 45 days after the
ophthalmologist or optometrist signs
and dates the Vision Evaluation Report,
Form MCSA–5871. The ME would have
to receive a completed report for each
examination of an individual needing
evaluation under § 391.44. The report
would be treated and retained as part of
the Medical Examination Report Form,
MCSA–5875. The ME would make a
physical qualification determination by
considering the information in the
Vision Evaluation Report, Form MCSA–
5871, and using independent medical
judgment in applying four standards.
The standards would provide that the
individual must (1) have in the better
eye distant visual acuity of at least 20/
40 (Snellen), with or without corrective
lenses, and field of vision of at least 70
degrees in the horizontal meridian; (2)
be able to recognize the colors of traffic
signals and devices showing standard
red, green, and amber; (3) have a stable
vision deficiency; and (4) have had
sufficient time to adapt to and
compensate for changes in vision.
Paragraph (d) would provide an
individual physically qualified under
§ 391.44(d) for the first time could not
drive a CMV until the individual has
successfully completed a road test
subsequent to physical qualification and
has been issued a certificate of driver’s
road test in accordance with § 391.31. A
motor carrier could not accept in place
of a road test required by § 391.44(d) the
alternatives provided in § 391.33.
Individuals would be excepted from the
road test requirement if they had a valid
license and operated in intrastate or
excepted interstate commerce with the
vision deficiency for the 3-year period
immediately preceding the date of
physical qualification under § 391.44 for
the first time, or held a valid Federal
vision exemption or were medically
certified under § 391.64(b) on the
effective date of any final rule.
Section 391.45 Persons Who Must Be
Medically Examined and Certified
Section 391.45 would be amended by
renumbering existing paragraphs (f) and
(g) as paragraphs (g) and (h),
respectively. A new paragraph (f) would
be added to require any driver certified
under proposed § 391.44 to be
recertified at least every 12 months.
Conforming changes would be made in
paragraph (b) to reflect the addition of
a new paragraph to this section.
Section 391.51 General Requirements
for Driver Qualification Files
Conforming changes would be made
to § 391.51. Paragraph (b)(3) would be
amended to include in the driver
qualification file the original of the
written statement from the motor carrier
required by § 391.44(d)(3)(ii)(A), as well
as the original, or a copy, of the
certification from the driver required by
§ 391.44(d)(3)(i).
Section 391.64 Grandfathering for
Certain Drivers Who Participated in the
Vision Waiver Study Program
FMCSA would revise the title of
§ 391.64 to reflect that the regulation is
now applicable only to drivers who
participated in the vision waiver study
program. Language would be inserted at
the beginning of existing paragraph (b)
to provide that any final rule resulting
from this NPRM would not apply to
individuals certified pursuant to
§ 391.64(b) until 1 year after the
effective date of the rule. During that
year, individuals certified under the
grandfather provisions could choose to
be certified under § 391.64(b) or the
final rule. A new paragraph (b)(4) would
be added to remove and void all of
paragraph (b) 1 year after the effective
date of the final rule; thus, eliminating
certification under § 391.64(b).
Paragraph (b)(4) would provide that any
MEC, Form MCSA–5876, issued under
the provisions of § 391.64(b) would
become void 1 year after the effective
date of the final rule. In addition,
instructions would be provided to
remove and reserve § 391.64 1 year after
the effective date of the final rule. Cross
references to § 391.64 in existing
regulations would be eliminated in
future rulemakings.
B. Guidance Statements and
Interpretations
This rulemaking proposes to amend a
regulation that has associated guidance
statements or interpretations. Such
guidance statements do not have the
force and effect of law and are not
meant to bind the public in any way.
They are intended only to provide
clarity to the public regarding existing
requirements under the law or FMCSA
policies. Guidance statements will not
be relied on by FMCSA as a separate
basis for affirmative enforcement action
or other administrative penalty.
Conformity with guidance statements is
voluntary, and nonconformity will not
affect rights and obligations under
existing statutes or regulations. Rather,
guidance is strictly advisory and
intended to provide information that
helps to support the application of the
standards in the regulations or to serve
as a reference. A guidance statement
does not alter the meaning of a
regulation.
Appendix A to Part 391—Medical
Advisory Criteria
Appendix A to Part 391 is published
at the end of part 391 in the CFR. The
appendix contains guidelines in the
form of Medical Advisory Criteria to
help MEs assess a driver’s physical
qualification to operate a CMV under
the standards set forth in § 391.41(b).
FMCSA proposes to remove section II.
J., Vision: § 391.41(b)(10), of Appendix
A to Part 391 in its entirety.
Interpretations for § 391.41
Interpretations for specific regulations
are available through the Guidance
Portal on FMCSA’s website. FMCSA
proposes to revise the guidance to
Question 3 of the interpretations for
§ 391.41.
69
FMCSA would conform the
language to the number of medical
conditions that would not be subject to
an ME’s judgment (i.e., two), and
remove ‘‘vision’’ from the list of
conditions for which an ME has no
discretion. The interpretative guidance
for Question 3 would thus read as
follows:
Question 3: What are the physical
qualification requirements for operating
a CMV in interstate commerce?
Guidance: The physical qualification
regulations for drivers in interstate
commerce are found at § 391.41.
Instructions to medical examiners
performing physical examinations of
these drivers are found at § 391.43.
The qualification standards cover 13
areas, which directly relate to the
driving function. All but two of the
standards require a judgment by the
medical examiner. A person’s
qualification to drive is determined by
a medical examiner who is
knowledgeable about the driver’s
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A copy of the application template is available
in the docket and at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/
sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations/medical/
driver-medical-requirements/10451/vision-
exemption-package-0918.pdf (last accessed July 16,
2019).
71
Applicants should have 3 years of intrastate
driving experience in a CMV; no suspensions or
revocations of the applicant’s license for operating
violations in any motor vehicle; no involvement in
a crash in which the applicant contributed or was
cited for a moving traffic violation; no convictions
for a disqualifying offense, as described in 49 CFR
383.51(b) (e.g., driving while under the influence of
alcohol or a controlled substance, leaving the scene
of an accident, or the commission of a felony
involving the use of a vehicle); more than one
serious traffic violation, as described in §383.51(c)
(e.g., excessive speeding, reckless driving, improper
or erratic lane changes, following the vehicle ahead
too closely, or a violation arising in connection with
a fatality) while driving a CMV; and no more than
two convictions for any other moving traffic
violations while driving a CMV.
72
FMCSA data as of July 2, 2019.
73
FMCSA 2018 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and
Bus Statistics, available at https://www.fmcsa.
dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/safety/data-
and-statistics/413361/fmcsa-pocket-guide-2018-
final-508-compliant-1.pdf (last accessed July 16,
2019).
74
Compared to all (interstate and intrastate) CMV
drivers, 6.1 million, or CDL drivers, 4.2 million, the
percentage is even lower.
75
The provisions of 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) do not
apply to drivers who were in good standing on
March 31, 1996, in a vision waiver study program;
provided, they meet certain conditions (49 CFR
391.64(b)). This figure may not represent active
drivers.
functions and whether a particular
condition would interfere with the
driver’s ability to operate a CMV safely.
In the case of hearing and epilepsy, the
current standards are absolute,
providing no discretion to the medical
examiner. However, drivers who do not
meet the current requirements may
apply for an exemption as provided by
49 CFR part 381.
X. International Impacts
The FMCSRs, and any exceptions to
the FMCSRs, apply only within the
United States (and, in some cases,
United States territories). Motor carriers
and drivers are subject to the laws and
regulations of the countries in which
they operate, unless an international
agreement states otherwise. Drivers and
carriers should be aware of the
regulatory differences among nations.
Pursuant to the terms of the 1998
medical reciprocity agreement with
Canada, the United States would notify
Canada if an alternative vision standard
is adopted and propose the countries
review their applicable vision standards
to determine whether they remain
equivalent.
XI. Regulatory Analyses
A. E.O. 12866 (Regulatory Planning and
Review), E.O. 13563 (Improving
Regulation and Regulatory Review), and
DOT Regulations
FMCSA performed an analysis of the
impacts of the proposed rule and
determined it is not a significant
regulatory action under section 3(f) of
E.O. 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4,
1993), Regulatory Planning and Review,
as supplemented by E.O. 13563 (76 FR
3821, January 21, 2011), Improving
Regulation and Regulatory Review.
Accordingly, OMB has not reviewed it
under that Order. It is also not
significant within the meaning of DOT
regulations (49 CFR 5.13(a)). The
Agency has determined that the
proposed rule would result in cost
savings.
A preliminary Regulatory Impact
Assessment follows:
Baseline for the Analysis
The current physical qualification
standard to drive a CMV requires 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 at
least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with
or without corrective lenses; field of
vision of at least 70 degrees in the
horizontal meridian of each eye; and the
ability to recognize the colors of traffic
signals and devices showing standard
red, green, and amber (49 CFR
391.41(b)(10)). This standard has been
in effect since 1971.
Drivers who do not meet either the
distant visual acuity or field of vision
standard, or both, in one eye may apply
to FMCSA for an exemption from the
standard to operate CMVs in interstate
commerce (49 CFR part 381, subpart C).
To do so, the driver must submit a letter
of application and supporting
documents to enable FMCSA to evaluate
the safety impact of the exemption.
70
Among the documentation is a signed
statement by an ophthalmologist or
optometrist showing evaluation of the
driver within the last 3 months and
which:
Identifies and defines the nature of
the vision deficiency, including how
long the individual has had the
deficiency;
States the date of examination;
Certifies that the vision deficiency
is stable;
Identifies the visual acuity of each
eye, corrected and uncorrected;
Identifies the field of vision of each
eye, including central and peripheral
fields, utilizing a testing modality that
tests to at least 120 degrees in the
horizontal;
Identifies whether the individual
can recognize the colors of traffic
control signals and devices showing red,
green, and amber; and
Certifies that in his or her medical
opinion, the individual has sufficient
vision to perform the driving tasks
required to operate a commercial
vehicle.
FMCSA must publish notice of the
request for an exemption and provide
the public opportunity to comment. The
notice granting the exemption must
identify the individual who will receive
the exemption, the provisions from
which the individual will be exempt,
the effective period, and all terms and
conditions of the exemption. The
Agency’s terms and conditions must
ensure that the exemption will likely
achieve a level of safety that is
equivalent to or greater than the level
that would be achieved by complying
with the regulations.
Currently, FMCSA grants exemptions
to applicants who meet specific criteria,
including stable vision and experience
safely operating a CMV with the vision
deficiency.
71
If granted, the driver must
meet certain conditions to maintain the
exemption. The driver must receive an
annual vision evaluation by an
ophthalmologist or optometrist and an
annual physical qualification
examination by an ME. In addition, the
Agency must monitor the
implementation of each exemption and
immediately revoke an exemption if the
driver fails to comply with the terms
and conditions; the exemption has
resulted in a lower level of safety than
was maintained before the exemption;
or continuation of the exemption would
not be consistent with the goals and
objectives of the FMCSRs (49 CFR
381.330).
FMCSA monitors vision-exempted
drivers on a quarterly basis. If any
potentially disqualifying information is
identified, FMCSA will request a copy
of the violation or crash report from the
driver. Should the violation be
disqualifying, FMCSA will revoke the
exemption immediately.
Currently, 2,566 drivers hold a vision
exemption.
72
Compared to all interstate
CMV drivers operating in the United
States in 2017 (3.7 million, including
3.2 million who hold CDLs),
73
these
drivers represent less than 0.1 percent of
the population.
74
There are approximately 1,900 active
grandfathered drivers.
75
FMCSA checks
the driving records of grandfathered
drivers to determine if they continue to
operate CMVs safely.
Since the inception of the vision
exemption program, the predominant
reason for denial of an exemption is less
than 3 years of experience operating
with the vision deficiency.
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Impact of the Proposed Rule: Physical
Qualification and Road Test
Physical Qualification
Should this proposal become a final
rule, an individual who cannot meet
either the distant visual acuity or field
of vision standard, or both, in one eye
could be physically qualified without
applying for or receiving an exemption.
The individual would still have to
receive a vision evaluation by an
ophthalmologist or optometrist. The
ophthalmologist or optometrist would
complete the Vision Evaluation Report,
Form MCSA–5871, which in part:
States the date of the vision
evaluation;
Identifies the distant visual acuity
in both eyes, uncorrected and corrected;
Identifies the field of vision,
including central and peripheral fields,
utilizing a testing modality that tests to
at least 120 degrees in the horizontal;
Identifies whether the individual
can recognize the standard red, green,
and amber traffic control signal colors;
Identifies whether the individual
has monocular vision as it is defined by
FMCSA and if so, the cause and when
it began;
Identifies current treatment;
Provides a medical opinion
regarding whether the vision deficiency
is stable;
Provides a medical opinion
regarding whether sufficient time has
passed to allow the individual to adapt
to and compensate for monocular
vision;
Identifies whether the individual
has any progressive eye condition or
disease and if so, the date of diagnosis,
severity (mild, moderate, or severe),
current treatment, and whether the
condition is stable; and
Provides a medical opinion
regarding whether a vision evaluation is
required more often than annually and
if so, how often.
The individual examined,
ophthalmologist, or optometrist would
provide the signed report to an ME who
would determine whether the
individual is physically qualified to
operate a CMV. Upon receipt of a
completed and signed MEC, Form
MCSA–5876, the individual would not
incur any further delay in qualification.
Under the vision exemption program,
the Agency determines whether to
provide the exemption that enables the
driver to obtain physical qualification.
Under the proposed rule, the ME would
make the physical qualification
determination. The Agency lacks data to
determine how the proposed change
might affect qualification
determinations. However, the outcomes
of the ME qualification determinations
may differ from those that would be
made under the exemption program.
For those who obtain an MEC, Form
MCSA–5876, the proposed action may
represent a streamlined process
compared to the requirements of the
vision exemption program in that the
driver would not need to compile and
submit the letter of application and
supporting documentation to FMCSA,
or respond to any subsequent requests
for information. However, it is possible
that the ME could issue a certificate that
is valid for a shorter time to monitor the
condition. In such circumstances, under
the vision exemption program, the
applicant would likely not receive an
exemption. For those who do not obtain
an MEC, Form MCSA–5876, the result
may or may not have been the same
under the vision exemption program.
If the proposed rule becomes a final
rule, it would result in the
discontinuation of the Federal vision
exemption program. Instead, the
physical qualification determination of
these individuals would be made by the
ME, who is trained and qualified to
make such determinations, considering
the information received in the vision
report from the ophthalmologist or
optometrist.
Road Test
Instead of requiring 3 years of
intrastate driving experience with the
vision deficiency as in the current
exemption program, FMCSA proposes
that individuals physically qualified
under the proposed alternative vision
standard for the first time must
complete a road test before operating in
interstate commerce. As described in
Section VII. Rationale for Proposed
Qualification Standard, individuals
would be excepted from the road test
requirement if they have 3 years of
intrastate or excepted interstate CMV
driving experience with the vision
deficiency, hold a valid Federal vision
exemption, or are medically certified
under § 391.64(b). These individuals
have already demonstrated they can
operate a CMV safely with the vision
deficiency. The road test would be
conducted by motor carriers in
accordance with the road test already
required by § 391.31.
FMCSA finds that a road test would
be an appropriate indicator of an
individual’s ability to operate a CMV
safely with the vision deficiency. Thus,
the Agency expects there will be no
adverse impact on safety from
eliminating the intrastate driving
experience criterion. When FHWA
adopted the road test in § 391.31, it
stated that the interests of CMV safety
would be promoted by ensuring drivers
have demonstrated their skill by
completing the road test (35 FR 6458,
6450 (April 22, 1970)).
The intrastate driving experience
criterion has the limitation that some
States do not have waiver programs
through which drivers can obtain the
driving experience necessary to comply
with the criteria of the Federal vision
exemption program. The removal of the
3-year experience criterion under the
proposed rule could more readily allow
these individuals to operate in interstate
commerce. However, the current
number of exemption holders,
grandfathered drivers, and applicants
denied exemptions represents less than
1 percent of all interstate CMV drivers.
The Agency anticipates the proposed
action would be safety neutral. FMCSA
notes that, although it would no longer
directly monitor the safety performance
of drivers, motor carriers would
continue to monitor individuals’ safety
performance when hiring drivers and
during the annual inquiry and review of
the driving record required by §§ 391.23
and 391.25, respectively.
Costs
FMCSA estimates that the proposed
rule would result in incremental cost
savings of approximately $1.6 million
annually from the elimination of the
Federal vision exemption program and
contract expenditures (Table 4). As
described in detail below, FMCSA also
accounts for the annual cost of a road
test at approximately $47,000.
T
ABLE
4—C
OST
S
AVINGS
: F
EDERAL
V
ISION
E
XEMPTION
P
ROGRAM
C
ONTRACT AND
R
OAD
T
EST
Fiscal year Contract cost Road test Total
2020–2021 ................................................................................................................................... ($1,531,633) $47,137 ($1,484,496)
2021–2022 ................................................................................................................................... (1,577,268) 47,137 (1,530,131)
2022–2023 ................................................................................................................................... (1,624,586) 47,137 (1,577,449)
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76
FMCSA recognizes that using 1,085 as the
driver population is a high estimation and
overstates the burden associated with the proposed
requirement in §391.44 for a road test. Some of the
individuals would already be required to obtain a
road test under §391.31, in the absence of the
requirement in §391.44(d). However, FMCSA lacks
internal data to estimate how many individuals
would already be required to obtain a §391.31 road
test. Therefore, FMCSA opted for a conservative
approach of assuming all 1,085 individuals would
require a road test.
77
In 2017 there were 1,151 applicants, in 2018
there were 1,073, and in 2019 there were 1,030
((1,151 + 1,073 + 1,030)/3 = 1,085).
78
Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020).
‘‘Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019,
13–1041 Compliance Officers,’’ available at https://
www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131041.htm (last
accessed August 16, 2020).
79
($51.13 × 0.55) + ($27.88 × 0.55) = $43.46.
T
ABLE
4—C
OST
S
AVINGS
: F
EDERAL
V
ISION
E
XEMPTION
P
ROGRAM
C
ONTRACT AND
R
OAD
T
EST
—Continued
Fiscal year Contract cost Road test Total
2023–2024 ................................................................................................................................... (1,673,324) 47,137 (1,626,187)
Note: For years 2022–2023 and 2023–2024, FMCSA estimated an average contract cost increase of 3 percent and extrapolated based on the
percent increase of previous years.
The 2,566 current vision exemption
holders would no longer have to apply
for an exemption, and potential
applicants who do not have 3 years of
intrastate driving experience may meet
the alternative vision standard and be
able to operate a CMV in interstate
commerce. As described in Section VIII.
Discussion of Proposed Rule, this may
lead to a reduction in burden, as drivers
would no longer be required to create
and assemble the substantial amount of
information and documentation
necessary to apply for or renew an
exemption, or to respond to subsequent
requests for information. However, the
affected population is small (less than 1
percent of CMV drivers), and the
relative advantages for these individuals
are unlikely to affect market conditions
in the truck and bus industries.
FMCSA estimates that the road test
would result in a total annual cost
impact of $47,000 (Table 5). There
would be approximately 1,085 drivers
76
requiring a road test under § 391.44 each
year. This number is the average of new
applications for the vision exemption
program FMCSA received over years
2017 through 2019.
77
As described
above, motor carriers would be
responsible for administering the test to
the drivers, which is estimated to take
0.55 hours (33 minutes). For the hourly
wage rates, FMCSA used $28 for the
drivers (Table 6) and $51 for the motor
carrier’s compliance officer.
78
T
ABLE
5—R
OAD
T
EST
C
OST
C
ALCULATIONS
[2019$]
Drivers/Motor Carriers .......... 1,085
Test Hours ............................ 0.55
Driver Wage .......................... $27.88
Subtotal ......................... $16,634
Compliance Officer Wage .... $51.13
Subtotal ......................... $30,502
Sum ........................ $47,137
T
ABLE
6—W
AGE
R
ATES FOR
CMV T
RUCK
D
RIVERS
Occupational title BLS SOC
code
North American Industry
Classification System
(NAICS) occupational
designation
Total
employees
Median
hourly base
wage
Fringe
benefits
rate
(%)
Median hourly
base wage +
fringe benefits
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 53–3032 All Industry ...................... 1,856,130 $21.76 45 $31.55
Light Truck or Delivery Service Driver ... 53–3033 All Industry ...................... 923,050 16.70 45 24.22
Weighted Driver Wage ........................... .................... ......................................... .................... .................... .................... 27.88
Source: BLS. May 2019 OES Database, National, All Industries, available at http://www.bls.gov/oes/ (last accessed September 10, 2020).
Although the Agency acknowledges
there may be motor carriers employing
multiple drivers, FMCSA lacks data to
estimate the exact number of motor
carriers. Therefore, to ensure the
inclusion of all affected motor carriers,
FMCSA opted for a conservative
approach of assuming a 1:1 ratio of
drivers per motor carrier, making
$47,000 a likely overestimate.
Additionally, there may be some drivers
who are motor carriers, in which case
the test must be given by a person other
than themselves (49 CFR 391.31(b)).
FMCSA treats the impacts on these
drivers as equivalent to those of all
affected drivers, and the Agency invites
public comment from owner-operators
to further inform this assumption. Using
this approach, the Agency estimates a
per entity impact of $43.46.
79
Benefits
As described in Section VIII.
Discussion of Proposed Rule,
eliminating the prohibition on certifying
individuals who cannot meet either the
current visual acuity or field of vision
standard, or both, in one eye (without
an exemption) would enable more
qualified individuals to operate as an
interstate CMV driver without
compromising safety. The proposed
alternative vision standard would allow
previously qualified interstate CMV
drivers who are no longer able to meet
either the distant visual acuity or field
of vision standard, or both, in one eye
to return to operating interstate sooner.
Additional employment opportunities
may also result from the removal of the
3-years of intrastate driving experience
requirement, which is a criterion of the
current exemption program. Drivers
who do not have 3 years of intrastate
driving experience may meet the
alternative vision standard and be able
to operate a CMV interstate. A one-time
road test would also be less burdensome
on drivers than obtaining 3 years of
intrastate driving experience. It also
addresses the consideration that many
drivers live in States that do not issue
vision waivers. The road test would
provide more drivers the opportunity to
operate a CMV.
Regarding risk, the Agency anticipates
no changes in risk resulting from the
very small number of additional
individuals affected by this proposed
rule relative to those of the baseline.
Therefore, FMCSA considers the
proposed rule to be safety neutral.
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Public Law 104–121, 110 Stat. 857, March 29,
1996.
81
‘‘North American Industry Classification
System’’ (2017), available at https://
www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/2017NAICS/2017_
NAICS_Manual.pdf (last accessed January 15,
2020).
82
SBA, Office of Advocacy, ‘‘A Guide for
Government Agencies. How to Comply with the
Regulatory Flexibility Act’’ (2017), available at
https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/
How-to-Comply-with-the-RFA-WEB.pdf (last
accessed January 16, 2020).
B. E.O. 13771 (Reducing Regulation and
Controlling Regulatory Costs)
The Agency expects this proposed
rule to have total costs less than zero,
and, if finalized, to qualify as an E.O.
13771 deregulatory action. The present
value of the cost savings of this
proposed rule, measured on an infinite
time horizon at a 7 percent discount
rate, expressed in 2016 dollars, and
discounted to 2021 (the year the
proposed rule would go into effect and
cost savings would first be realized),
would be $20.9 million. On an
annualized basis, these cost savings
would be $1.5 million.
For E.O. 13771 accounting, the April
5, 2017, OMB guidance requires that
agencies also calculate the costs and
cost savings discounted to year 2016. In
accordance with this requirement, the
present value of the cost savings of this
rule, measured on an infinite time
horizon at a 7 percent discount rate,
expressed in 2016 dollars, and
discounted to 2016, would be $14.9
million. On an annualized basis, the
cost savings would be $1 million.
C. Congressional Review Act
This proposed rule is not a major rule
as defined under the Congressional
Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801–808).
D. Regulatory Flexibility Act (Small
Entities)
The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)
(5 U.S.C. 601, et seq.), as amended by
the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996,
80
requires Federal agencies to consider
the impact of their regulatory actions on
small entities, analyze effective
alternatives that minimize small entity
impacts, and make their analyses
available for public comment. The term
‘‘small entities’’ means small businesses
and not-for-profit organizations that are
independently owned and operated and
are not dominant in their fields, and
governmental jurisdictions with
populations under 50,000 (5 U.S.C.
601(6)). Accordingly, DOT policy
requires an analysis of the impact of all
regulations on small entities, and
mandates that agencies strive to lessen
any adverse effects on these entities.
Section 605 of the RFA allows an
Agency to certify a rule, in lieu of
preparing an analysis, if the rulemaking
is not expected to have a significant
economic impact on a substantial
number of small entities.
This rule would affect drivers and
motor carriers. Drivers are not
considered small entities because they
do not meet the definition of a small
entity in section 601 of the RFA.
Specifically, drivers are considered
neither a small business under section
601(3) of the RFA, nor are they
considered a small organization under
section 601(4) of the RFA.
The Small Business Administration
(SBA) defines the size standards used to
classify entities as small. SBA
establishes separate standards for each
industry, as defined by the North
American Industry Classification
System (NAICS).
81
This rule could affect
many different industry sectors in
addition to the Transportation and
Warehousing sector (NAICS sectors 48
and 49); for example, the Construction
sector (NAICS sector 23), the
Manufacturing sector (NAICS sectors 31,
32, and 33), and the Retail Trade sector
(NAICS sectors 44 and 45). Industry
groups within these sectors have size
standards for qualifying as small based
on the number of employees (e.g., 500
employees), or on the amount of annual
revenue (e.g., $27.5 million in revenue).
To determine the NAICS industries
potentially affected by this rule, FMCSA
cross-referenced occupational
employment statistics from the Bureau
of Labor Statistics with NAICS industry
codes.
The RFA does not define a threshold
for determining whether a specific
regulation results in a significant
impact. However, the SBA, in guidance
to government agencies, provides some
objective measures of significance that
the agencies can consider using.
82
One
measure that could be used to illustrate
a significant impact is labor costs,
specifically, if the cost of the regulation
exceeds 1 percent of the average annual
revenues of small entities in the sector.
Given the proposed rule’s average
annual per-entity impact of $43.46, a
small entity would need to have average
annual revenues of less than $4,346 to
experience an impact greater than 1
percent of average annual revenue,
which is an average annual revenue that
is smaller than would be required for a
firm to support one employee.
Therefore, I certify this rule would not
have a significant impact on the entities
affected.
E. Assistance for Small Entities
In accordance with section 213(a) of
the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996,
FMCSA wants to assist small entities in
understanding this proposed rule so that
they can better evaluate its effects on
themselves and participate in the
rulemaking initiative. If the proposed
rule would affect your small business,
organization, or governmental
jurisdiction and you have questions
concerning its provisions or options for
compliance; please consult the FMCSA
point of contact, Ms. Christine Hydock,
listed in the
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
CONTACT
section of this proposed rule.
Small businesses may send comments
on the actions of Federal employees
who enforce or otherwise determine
compliance with Federal regulations to
the Small Business Administration’s
Small Business and Agriculture
Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman
and the Regional Small Business
Regulatory Fairness Boards. The
Ombudsman evaluates these actions
annually and rates each agency’s
responsiveness to small business. To
comment on actions by employees of
FMCSA, call 1–888–REG–FAIR (1–888–
734–3247). DOT has a policy regarding
the rights of small entities to regulatory
enforcement fairness and an explicit
policy against retaliation for exercising
these rights.
F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of
1995
The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531–1538) requires
Federal agencies to assess the effects of
their discretionary regulatory actions. In
particular, the Act addresses actions
that may result in the expenditure by a
State, local, or tribal government, in the
aggregate, or by the private sector of
$168 million (which is the value
equivalent of $100 million in 1995,
adjusted for inflation to 2019 levels) or
more in any 1 year. Though this
proposed rule would not result in such
an expenditure, the Agency discusses
the effects of this rule elsewhere in this
preamble.
G. Paperwork Reduction Act (Collection
of Information)
The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995
(44 U.S.C. 3501–3520) requires that an
agency consider the impact of
paperwork and other information
collection burdens imposed on the
public. An agency is prohibited from
collecting or sponsoring an information
collection, as well as imposing an
information collection requirement,
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The OMB control number will be determined
and assigned by OMB upon approval of the ICR.
unless it displays a valid OMB control
number (5 CFR 1320.8(b)(3)(vi)).
The proposed rule would impact an
existing information collection request
(ICR) titled ‘‘Medical Qualification
Requirements,’’ OMB control number
2126–0006, and a new ICR titled
‘‘391.31 Road Test Requirement,’’ OMB
control number 2126–TBD.
83
The ICRs
will be discussed separately below,
followed by a discussion of the net
information collection and reporting
burdens of the proposed rule.
1. Related Information Collection
Requests
a. Medical Qualification Requirements
ICR
This proposed rule would amend the
existing approved Medical Qualification
Requirements ICR, OMB control number
2126–0006, which expires on November
30, 2021. Specifically, FMCSA seeks
approval for the revision of the ICR due
to the Agency’s development of this
proposed rule, which includes the use
of the proposed Vision Evaluation
Report, Form MCSA–5871. In
accordance with 44 U.S.C. 3507(d),
FMCSA will submit the proposed
information collection amendments to
OIRA at OMB for its approval.
Title: Medical Qualification
Requirements.
OMB Control Number: 2126–0006.
Type of Review: Revision of a
currently-approved information
collection.
Summary: FMCSA proposes to
establish an alternative vision standard
for individuals who cannot satisfy either
the current distant visual acuity or field
of vision standard, or both, in one eye.
FMCSA proposes a two-step process for
physical qualification of these
individuals that, if adopted, would
replace the current vision exemption
program as a basis for determining the
physical qualification of these
individuals to operate a CMV. First, an
individual seeking physical
qualification would obtain a vision
evaluation from an ophthalmologist or
optometrist who would record the
findings and provide specific medical
opinions on the proposed Vision
Evaluation Report, Form MCSA–5871.
Next, at a physical qualification
examination, an ME would consider the
information provided on the Vision
Evaluation Report, Form MCSA–5871,
and determine whether the individual
meets the proposed alternative vision
standard and FMCSA’s other physical
qualification standards. If so, the ME
could issue an MEC, Form MCSA–5876,
for up to a maximum of 12 months. The
proposed Vision Evaluation Report,
Form MCSA–5871, supports safety by
ensuring that CMV drivers are
physically qualified to operate trucks
and buses on our nation’s highways.
Because of the proposed action, a new
information collection, IC–8
Qualifications of Drivers; Vision
Standard, would be added to the
existing ICR. FMCSA estimates that
ophthalmologists and optometrists
would complete 3,614 Vision
Evaluation Reports, Form MCSA–5871,
annually and that it would take them 8
minutes to complete a report. Thus, the
estimated annual burden hours
associated with the proposed
information collection is 482 hours
(3,614 forms × 8 minutes per form ÷ 60
minutes = 482 hours, rounded to the
nearest whole hour). At an average
hourly labor cost of $82.40 for
optometrists, the estimated salary cost
associated with this information
collection is $39,717 ($82.40 hourly
labor costs × 482 hours = $39,717,
rounded to the nearest dollar).
Additional information is provided in
the draft supporting statement for the
Medical Qualification Requirements
ICR, which is available in the docket.
Estimated number of respondents:
3,614 ophthalmologists and
optometrists.
Estimated responses: 3,614.
Frequency: At least annually.
Estimated burden hours: 482.
Estimated cost: $39,717.
The proposed alternative vision
standard would eliminate the need for
the Federal vision exemption program
and the related information collection
(IC–3a). The current vision exemption
program requires individuals to submit
personal, health, and driving
information during the application
process. In addition, motor carriers must
copy and file the vision exemption in
the driver qualification file. FMCSA
attributes 2,236 annual burden hours to
obtain and maintain a vision exemption,
and this proposed rule would eliminate
this entire burden. However, it would
add 482 burden hours for the
information collection associated with
completion of the Vision Evaluation
Report, Form MCSA–5871. Thus, the
net effect of the proposed rule would be
a reduction in burden hours of 1,754
(482 hours related to the vision
report¥2,236 hours related to the
current vision exemption program =
¥1,754). The net effect of the proposed
rule with respect to cost would be a
reduction of $29,419 ($39,717 related to
the vision report ¥$69,136 related to
the current vision exemption program =
¥$29,419).
The revised total annual estimated
burden associated with the Medical
Qualification Requirements ICR that
reflects the addition of this proposed
information collection and the
completion of the Vision Evaluation
Report, Form MCSA–5871; the
elimination of the Federal vision
exemption program; updated driver
population, program statistics, National
Registry statistics, and wage data; and
regulatory changes is as follows.
Total estimated number of
respondents: 5,586,232 CMV drivers,
motor carriers, MEs, treating clinicians,
ophthalmologists, and optometrists.
Total estimated responses:
27,202,863.
Total estimated burden hours:
2,251,571.
Total estimated cost: $171,044,474.
b. Section 391.31 Road Test
Requirement ICR
FMCSA proposes a new § 391.31 Road
Test Requirement ICR. The ICR
estimates the paperwork burden motor
carriers incur to comply with the
reporting and recordkeeping tasks
required for the road test associated
with 49 CFR 391.31. FMCSA has not
previously accounted for the burden
associated with § 391.31 road tests;
accordingly, the ICR accounts for the
burden. The ICR also would include the
incremental burden for motor carriers
associated with § 391.31 road tests due
to FMCSA’s development of this
proposed rule. In accordance with 44
U.S.C. 3507(d), FMCSA will submit the
new ICR to OIRA at OMB for its
approval.
Title: 391.31 Road Test Requirement.
OMB Control Number: 2126–TBD.
Type of Review: Approval of a new
information collection.
Summary: The road test provision in
§ 391.31 provides an individual must
not drive a CMV until the individual
has successfully completed a road test
and has been issued a certificate of
driver’s road test. It was adopted by
FHWA in 1970 (35 FR 6458, 6462, April
22, 1970). At that time, FHWA stated
that the interests of CMV safety would
be promoted by ensuring drivers have
demonstrated their skill by completing
a road test (35 FR 6459). The related
requirement in § 391.51 that the motor
carrier include information relating to
the road test in the driver qualification
file was also adopted in 1970 (35 FR
6465). The information documents the
driver’s ability to operate a CMV safely.
Sections 391.31 and 391.51 are based
on the authority of the Motor Carrier Act
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Public Law 74–255, 49 Stat. 543, August 9,
1935.
85
Public Law 98–554, 98 Stat. 2829, 2832,
October 30, 1984.
of 1935
84
(1935 Act) and the Motor
Carrier Safety Act of 1984
85
(1984 Act),
both as amended. The 1935 Act, as
codified at 49 U.S.C. 31502(b),
authorizes the Secretary to prescribe
requirements for the qualifications of
employees of a motor carrier and the
safety of operation and equipment of a
motor carrier. The 1984 Act, as codified
at 49 U.S.C. 31136, provides concurrent
authority to regulate drivers, motor
carriers, and vehicle equipment. Section
31136(a) requires the Secretary to issue
regulations on CMV safety, including
regulations to ensure that CMVs are
operated safely. The Secretary has
discretionary authority under 49 U.S.C.
31133(a)(8) to prescribe recordkeeping
and reporting requirements. The
Administrator of FMCSA is delegated
authority under 49 CFR 1.87 to carry out
the functions vested in the Secretary by
49 U.S.C. Chapters 311 and 315 as they
relate to CMV operators, programs, and
safety.
Motor carriers must ensure each
driver has the skill to operate a CMV
safely. The information collected and
maintained by motor carriers in each
driver qualification file related to the
road test substantiates the driver can
operate a CMV safely and the motor
carrier has fulfilled its regulatory
requirements. It also aids Federal and
State safety investigators in assessing
the qualifications of drivers.
Public interest in highway safety
dictates that employers hire drivers who
can safely operate CMVs amidst the
various physical and mental demands of
truck driving. Section 391.31 requires a
motor carrier to conduct a road test
when the motor carrier hires a new
driver. The motor carrier is required to
rate the performance of the driver
during the test on a road test form. If the
road test is successfully completed, the
motor carrier completes a certificate of
driver’s road test and provides a copy to
the driver. Motor carriers may maintain
the required road test form and
certificate electronically or via paper
copy. The motor carrier must retain the
signed road test form and the signed
certificate in the driver qualification
file. Generally, driver qualification files
must be maintained at the motor
carrier’s principal place of business.
Neither the road test form nor the
certificate is routinely submitted to
FMCSA. A motor carrier would only
make the information available when
requested by an FMCSA or State safety
investigator for an investigation or
audit.
There are three reporting and
recordkeeping tasks motor carriers
perform regarding the road test required
by § 391.31 when they hire a new
driver. The three tasks are:
1. The motor carrier completes and signs
the road test form while the driver performs
a pre-trip inspection and the driving portion
of the road test (49 CFR 391.31(d)).
2. If the driver successfully passes the road
test, the motor carrier completes a certificate
of driver’s road test in substantially the form
prescribed in § 391.31(f) (49 CFR 391.31(e))
and gives the driver a copy (49 CFR
391.31(g)).
3. The motor carrier retains in the driver
qualification file the original signed road test
form and the original, or a copy, of the signed
certificate of driver’s road test (49 CFR
391.31(g)(1) and (2)).
To estimate the total burden hours,
FMCSA multiplies the number of
respondents by the hourly burden per
response. FMCSA estimates a burden of
30 minutes for the motor carrier to
complete the road test form while
conducting the road test. Should the
driver successfully pass the road test,
FMCSA assumes it will take the motor
carrier 2 minutes to complete the
certification of driver’s road test and an
additional 1 minute to store documents
in the driver qualification file.
To estimate burden costs, FMCSA
assumes a compliance officer will be the
person who will complete the road test
form and associated certificate, and a
file clerk will be the person who will
store the documents. The median salary
for a compliance officer is $51.13 per
hour. The median salary for a file clerk
is $25.63 per hour.
The ICR estimates the information-
collection burden incurred by motor
carriers associated with the § 391.31
road test in two circumstances. The first
is when the road test is required by
§ 391.31 (IC–1); the second is when the
road test is required as part of the
alternative vision standard in proposed
§ 391.44 (IC–2).
IC–1 consists of the three reporting
and recordkeeping tasks motor carriers
perform regarding the road test required
by § 391.31 when they hire a new
driver. The respondent universe is the
number of motor carriers required to
complete a road test for drivers hired.
To determine the number of drivers who
will be hired and require a road test,
FMCSA first determines the driver
population subject to the road test
requirement. Because § 391.33 allows
motors carriers to accept a valid CDL
instead of the § 391.31 road test, the
driver population is non-CDL interstate
and intrastate drivers. To find the driver
populations in 2022, 2023, and 2024
(the 3 years projected to be reflected in
the ICR), FMCSA adjusts the driver
population by multiplying it by the
growth rate for driver occupations
typical in the light vehicle industry (i.e.,
5 percent). Next, FMCSA estimates the
total number of job openings per year by
multiplying the adjusted total driver
population by the industry turnover rate
(i.e., 79.2 percent). Because drivers may
present a certificate of driver’s road test
for up 3 years from when it is completed
under § 391.33, FMCSA estimates one-
third of drivers will be required to have
a road test each year of the ICR. The
resulting number is the respondent
universe, i.e., the number of motor
carriers required to complete a road test
for drivers hired.
For each of the three § 391.31 road
test reporting and recordkeeping tasks
motor carriers perform when they hire
a new driver, FMSCA estimates the
motor carrier burden hours by
multiplying the number of respondents
by the hourly burden for each task.
Then FMCSA estimates the motor
carrier cost by multiplying the burden
hours by the median salary for the
person performing the task. The total
motor carrier burden hours and cost for
the three tasks is reflected below in the
total burden and cost amounts for the
ICR.
IC–2 consists of the incremental
burden associated with the requirement
in this proposed rule that individuals
physically qualified under the
alternative vision standard in § 391.44
for the first time would be required to
complete a road test in accordance with
§ 391.31. FMCSA uses the same three
reporting and recordkeeping tasks, time
estimates, labor costs, and overall
methodology discussed above to
calculate the annual burden hours and
cost associated with the proposed rule.
However, FMCSA estimates the
respondent universe of 1,085 motor
carriers by averaging the number of new
requests for a Federal vision exemption
in 2017, 2018, and 2019 ((1,151 + 1,073
+ 1,030)/3 = 1,085).
FMCSA recognizes that using 1,085 as
the driver population is a high
estimation and overstates the burden
associated with the proposed
requirement in § 391.44 for a road test.
Some of the individuals would already
be required to obtain a road test under
§ 391.31, in the absence of the
requirement in § 391.44(d). However,
FMCSA lacks internal data to estimate
how many individuals would already be
required to obtain a § 391.31 road test.
Therefore, FMCSA opted for a
conservative approach of assuming all
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Public Law 108–447, 118 Stat. 2809, 3268,
December 8, 2004 (5 U.S.C. 552a note).
1,085 individuals would require a road
test.
In addition, § 391.44(d)(3) would
provide an exception to the road test
requirement for some individuals. If the
motor carrier determines an individual
possessed a valid CDL or non-CDL
license to operate, and did operate, a
CMV in either intrastate commerce or in
exempt interstate commerce with the
vision deficiency for the 3-year period
immediately preceding the date of
physical qualification under § 391.44 for
the first time, the individual would not
be required to complete a § 391.31 road
test. FMCSA lacks internal data to
estimate how many individuals would
be excepted from a road test by this
provision, but expects only a small
number of individuals would qualify for
the exception. In addition, the
paperwork burden to except an
individual from the road test
requirement would be less than the
burden for the individual to take the
road test. Therefore, FMCSA opted for a
conservative approach of assuming all
1,085 individuals would require a road
test.
The estimated incremental annual
burden associated with the requirement
in the proposed rule that individuals
physically qualified under § 391.44 for
the first time would be required to
complete a road test in accordance with
§ 391.31 (IC–2), is as follows.
Estimated number of respondents:
1,085 motor carriers.
Estimated responses: 3,255.
Estimated burden hours: 609.
Estimated cost: $30,578.
The total estimated annual burden
associated with the 391.31 Road Test
Requirement ICR for IC–1 and IC–2 is as
follows:
Total estimated number of
respondents: 560,809 motor carriers.
Total estimated responses: 2,306,709.
Total estimated burden hours:
430,588.
Total estimated cost: $21,623,811.
Additional information for the
assumptions, calculations, and
methodology summarized above is
provided in the draft supporting
statement for the 391.31 Road Test
Requirement ICR. The supporting
statement is available in the docket for
this rulemaking.
2. Net Information Collection Reporting
Burdens
As shown above, the net effect of the
proposed rule on the Medical
Qualification Requirements ICR would
be a reduction in burden hours of 1,754
and in cost of $29,419. The effect of the
proposed rule on the 391.31 Road Test
Requirement ICR would be an addition
in burden hours of 609 and in cost of
$30,578. Thus, the net effect of the
proposed rule would be a reduction in
burden hours of 1145 (¥1,754 hours
related to the Medical Qualification
Requirements ICR + 609 hours related to
the 391.31 Road Test Requirement ICR
= ¥1,145). The net effect of the
proposed rule with respect to cost
would be an addition of $1,159
(¥$29,419 related to the Medical
Qualification Requirements ICR +
$30,578 related to the 391.31 Road Test
Requirement ICR = $1,159).
3. Request for Comments
FMCSA asks for comment on the
information collection requirements of
this proposed rule, as well as the
revised total estimated burden
associated with the Medical
Qualification Requirements ICR and the
total estimated burden associated with
the new 391.31 Road Test Requirement
ICR. Specifically, the Agency asks for
comment on: (1) Whether the proposed
information collections are necessary for
FMCSA to perform its functions; (2)
how the Agency can improve the
quality, usefulness, and clarity of the
information to be collected; (3) the
accuracy of FMCSA’s estimate of the
burden of this information collection;
and (4) how the Agency can minimize
the burden of the information
collection.
If you have comments on the
collection of information, you must
submit those comments as outlined
under section I.E. at the beginning of
this NPRM.
H. E.O. 13132 (Federalism)
A rule has implications for federalism
under section 1(a) of E.O. 13132 if it has
‘‘substantial direct effects on the States,
on the relationship between the national
government and the States, or on the
distribution of power and
responsibilities among the various
levels of government.’’ FMCSA
determined that this proposal would not
have substantial direct costs on or for
States, nor would it limit the
policymaking discretion of States.
Nothing in this document preempts any
State law or regulation. Therefore, this
rule does not have sufficient federalism
implications to warrant the preparation
of a Federalism Impact Statement.
I. Privacy
Section 522 of title I of division H of
the Consolidated Appropriations Act,
2005,
86
requires the Agency to conduct
a privacy impact assessment of a
<