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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.

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ACTION:

Notice of renewal of exemption; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

This notice announces FMCSA's decision to renew the exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) for 19 individuals.

DATES:

This decision is effective April 14, 2002. Comments from interested persons should be submitted by May 9, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

You can mail or deliver comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001. You can also submit comments as well as see the submissions of other commenters at http://dms.dot.gov. Please include the docket numbers that appear in the heading of this document. You can examine and copy this document and all comments received at the same Internet address or at the Dockets Management Facility from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. If you want to know that we received your comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped postcard or include a copy of the acknowledgement page that appears after you submit 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. Joseph 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 see all comments online through the Document Management System (DMS) at: http://dmses.dot.gov/​submit.

Background

Nineteen 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 Mark K. Cheely, James D. Davis, James F. Durham, Glenn E. Gee, Robert N. Heaton, Laurent G. Jacques, Alfred G. Jeffus, Michael W. Jones, Jon G. Lima, Earl E. Martin, Clifford E. Masink, Robert W. Nicks, Richard W. O'Neill, Tommy L. Ray, Jr., Andrew W. Schollett, Melvin B. Shumaker, Sammy D. Steinsultz, Edward J. Sullivan, and Steven L. Valley. Under 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), FMCSA may renew an exemption for a 2-year period if it finds “such exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption.” Accordingly, FMCSA has evaluated the 19 petitions for renewal on their merits and decided to extend each exemption for a renewable 2-year period.

On April 14, 2000, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 34 individuals, including 10 of these applicants for renewal, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) (65 FR 20251). The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail at 64 FR 68195 (December 6, 1999). Two comments were received, and their contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the petitions (65 FR 20251). On January 3, 2000, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 40 individuals, including 5 of these applicants for renewal, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) (65 FR 159). The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail at 64 FR 54948 (October 8, 1999). Two comments were received, and their contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the petitions (65 FR 159). On December 13, 1999, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt one of these applicants for renewal, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) (64 FR 69586). The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of the applicant were stated and discussed in detail at 64 FR 27025 (May 18, 1999). Two comments were received, and their contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the petition (64 FR 69586). On November 30, 1999, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 33 individuals, including 3 of these applicants for renewal, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) (64 FR 66962). The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail at 64 FR 40404 (July 26, 1999). Three comments were received, and their contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the petitions (64 FR 66962). 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 continued to meet the standard specified in 49 CFR 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 retain 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 additional 2-year periods. In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), each of the 19 applicants has satisfied the entry conditions for obtaining an exemption from the vision requirements (65 FR 20251; 64 FR 68195; 65 FR 159; 64 FR 54948; 64 FR 69586; 64 FR 27025; 64 FR 66962; 64 FR 40404), and each has requested timely renewal of the exemption. These 19 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 Start Printed Page 17104continue to drive safely in interstate commerce. Therefore, 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 continued opposition to FMCSA's procedures for renewing exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10). Specifically, 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 issues raised by AHAS were addressed at length in 66 FR 17994 (April 4, 2001). We will not address these points again here, but refer interested parties to that earlier discussion.

Conclusion

In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), FMCSA extends the exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) granted to Mark K. Cheely, James D. Davis, James F. Durham, Glenn E. Gee, Robert N. Heaton, Laurent G. Jacques, Alfred G. Jeffus, Michael W. Jones, Jon G. Lima, Earl E. Martin, Clifford E. Masink, Robert W. Nicks, Richard W. O'Neill, Tommy L. Ray, Jr., Andrew W. Schollett, Melvin B. Shumaker, Sammy D. Steinsultz, Edward J. Sullivan, and Steven L. Valley, 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 retention in the driver's qualification file and retain 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 rescinded earlier by FMCSA. The exemption will be rescinded 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

FMCSA has evaluated the qualifications and driving performance of the 19 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, FMCSA requests that interested parties with information concerning the safety records of these drivers submit comments by May 9, 2002. All comments will be considered and will be available for examination in the docket room at the above address. 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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Issued on: April 4, 2002.

Brian M. McLaughlin,

Associate Administrator for Policy and Program Development.

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[FR Doc. 02-8553 Filed 4-8-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P