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Notice

Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of renewal of exemption; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

This notice announces the FMCSA's decision to renew the exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), for 13 individuals.

DATES:

This decision is effective April 5, 2001. Comments from interested persons should be submitted by May 4, 2001.

ADDRESSES:

Mail or hand deliver comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590, or submit electronically at http://dmses.dot.gov/​submit. All comments received will be available for examination and copying at the above address from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Those desiring notification of receipt of comments must include a self-addressed, stamped postcard or you may print the acknowledgment page that appears after submitting comments electronically.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For information about the vision exemptions in this notice, Ms. Sandra Zywokarte, Office of Bus and Truck Standards and Operations, (202) 366-2987; for information about legal issues related to this notice, Mr. Joe Solomey, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-1374, FMCSA, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access and Filing

You may submit or retrieve comments online through the Document Management System (DMS) at: http://dmses.dot.gov/​submit. Acceptable formats include: MS Word (versions 95 to 97), MS Word for Mac (versions 6 to 8), Rich Text File (RTF), American Standard Code Information Interchange (ASCII)(TXT), Portable Document Format (PDF), and WordPerfect (versions 7 to 8). The DMS is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. Electronic submission and retrieval help and guidelines are available under the help section of the web site.

An electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded by using a computer, modem and suitable communications software from the Government Printing Office's Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 512-1661. Internet users may also reach the Office of the Federal Register's home page at: http://www.nara.gov/​fedreg and the Government Printing Office's database at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/​nara.

Background

Thirteen individuals have requested renewal of their exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) which applies to drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. They are Joe F. Arnold, Gary A. Barrett, Ivan L. Beal, Johnny A. Beutler, Richard D. Carlson, David J. Collier, Loras G. Knebel, Dexter L. Myhre, James H. Oppliger, Stephanie D. Randels, Duane L. Riendeau, Darrell L. Rohlfs, and Robert A. Wagner. Under 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), the FMCSA may grant an exemption for a renewable 2-year period if it finds “such exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved Start Printed Page 17995absent such exemption.” Accordingly, the FMCSA has evaluated the 13 petitions for renewal on their merits and has decided to extend each exemption for a renewable 2-year period.

On April 5, 1999, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 23 individuals, including 12 of these applicants for renewal, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) (64 FR 16517). The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail at 63 FR 66226 (December 1, 1998). One comment was received, and its contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the petitions (64 FR 16517). On October 9, 1998, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 12 individuals, including Mr. Wagner, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) (63 FR 54519). His qualifications, experience, and medical condition were stated and discussed in detail at 63 FR 30285 (June 3, 1998). Three comments were received, and their contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the petitions (63 FR 54519). The agency determined that exempting the individuals from 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) was likely to achieve a level of safety equal to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved without the exemption as long as the vision in each applicant's better eye continues to meet the standard specified in 391.41(b)(10). As a condition of the exemption, therefore, the agency imposed requirements on the individuals similar to the grandfathering provisions in 49 CFR 391.64(b) applied to drivers who participated in the agency's former vision waiver program.

These requirements are as follows: (1) That each individual be physically examined every year (a) by an ophthalmologist or optometrist who attests that vision in the better eye meets the standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), and (b) by a medical examiner who attests the individual is otherwise physically qualified under 49 CFR 391.41; (2) that each individual provide a copy of the ophthalmologist's or optometrist's report to the medical examiner at the time of the annual medical examination; and (3) that each individual provide a copy of the annual medical certification to the employer for retention in the driver's qualification file and retains a copy of the certification on his/her person while driving for presentation to a duly authorized Federal, State, or local enforcement official.

Basis for Renewing Exemptions

Under 49 U.S.C. 31315(b)(1), an exemption may be granted for no longer than 2 years from its approval date and may be renewed upon application for an additional 2-year period. In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), each of the 13 applicants has satisfied the entry conditions for obtaining an exemption from the vision requirements (63 FR 30285; 63 FR 54519; 63 FR 66266; 64 FR 16517), and each has requested timely renewal of the exemption. These 13 applicants have submitted evidence showing that the vision in their better eye continues to meet the standard specified at 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), and that the vision impairment is stable. In addition, a review of their records of safety while driving with their respective vision deficiencies over the past 2 years indicates each applicant continues to meet the vision exemption standards. These factors provide an adequate basis for predicting each driver's ability to continue to drive safely in interstate commerce. Therefore, the FMCSA concludes that extending the exemption for a period of 2 years is likely to achieve a level of safety equal to that existing without the exemption for each renewal applicant.

Discussion of Comments

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) expresses opposition to the FMCSA's procedures for renewing exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10). Specifically, the AHAS objects to the agency's extension of the exemptions without any opportunity for public comment prior to the decision to renew and reliance on a summary statement of evidence to make its decision to extend the exemption of each driver.

The FMCSA believes that the requirements for a renewal of an exemption under 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e) can be satisfied by initially granting the renewal and then requesting and evaluating, if needed, subsequently comments submitted by interested parties. As indicated above, the agency previously published notices of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt these 13 individuals from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10). That final decision to grant exemptions to each of these individuals was based on the merits of each case and only after careful consideration of the comments received to its notices of application. Those notices of applications stated in detail the qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each petitioner for an exemption from the vision requirements. That information is available by consulting the above cited Federal Register publications.

These 13 individuals identified in today's publication have successfully driven with an exception from the vision requirements for the past two years. These drivers have received physical examinations during the past two-year period, in accordance with the program requirements. Either an ophthalmologist or optometrist has attested that they continued to meet the standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) in the better eye. Upon filing their renewal application, all 13 applicants have presented proof of continued qualification. Their vision impairment is stable. The driving record of all 13-renewal applicants continues to highlight their safe driving. These individuals have, and are continuing to, achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent the exemption.

Nonetheless, interested parties or organizations possessing information that would otherwise show that any, or all of these drivers, are not currently achieving the statutory level of safety should immediately notify the FMCSA. The FMCSA will evaluate any adverse evidence submitted and, if safety is being compromised or if continuation of the exemption would not be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), the FMCSA will take immediate steps to revoke the exemption of a driver.

Conclusion

In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), the FMCSA extends the exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) granted to Joe F. Arnold, Gary A. Barrett, Ivan L. Beal, Johnny A. Beutler, Richard D. Carlson, David J. Collier, Loras G. Knebel, Dexter L. Myhre, James H. Oppliger, Stephanie D. Randels, Duane L. Riendeau, Darrell L. Rohlfs, and Robert A. Wagner, subject to the following conditions: (1) That each individual be physically examined every year (a) by an ophthalmologist or optometrist who attests that the vision in the better eye continues to meet the standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), and (b) by a medical examiner who attests that the individual is otherwise physically qualified under 49 CFR 391.41; (2) that each individual provide a copy of the ophthalmologist's or optometrist's report to the medical examiner at the time of the annual medical examination; and (3) that each individual provide a copy of the annual medical certification to the employer for Start Printed Page 17996retention in the driver's qualification file and retains a copy of the certification on his/her person while driving for presentation to a duly authorized Federal, State, or local enforcement official. Each exemption will be valid for 2 years unless revoked earlier by the FMCSA. The exemption will be revoked if: (1) The person fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the exemption; (2) the exemption has resulted in a lower level of safety than was maintained before it was granted; or (3) continuation of the exemption would not be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e).

Request for Comments

The FMCSA has evaluated the qualifications and driving performance of the 13 applicants here and extends their exemptions based on the evidence introduced. The agency will review any comments received concerning a particular driver's safety record and determine if the continuation of the exemption is consistent with the requirements at 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e). While comments of this nature will be entertained at any time, the FMCSA requests that interested parties with information concerning the safety records of these drivers submit comments by May 4, 2001. All comments will be considered and will be available for examination in the docket room at the above address. The FMCSA will also continue to file in the docket relevant information which becomes available. Interested persons should continue to examine the docket for new material.

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Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 31136 and 31315; and 49 CFR 1.73.

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Issued on: March 29, 2001.

Julie Anna Cirillo,

Acting Deputy Administrator,

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[FR Doc. 01-8265 Filed 4-3-01; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P