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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 publishes the FMCSA's decision to renew the exemptions from the vision requirement in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for 16 individuals.

DATES:

This decision is effective November 9, 2002. Comments from interested persons should be submitted by December 4, 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 at http://dms.dot.gov. Please include the docket numbers that appear in the heading of this document in your submission. 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 us to notify you that we received your comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Sandra Zywokarte, Office of Bus and Truck Standards and Operations, (202) 366-2987, 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:

Exemption Decision

Under 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), the FMCSA may renew an exemption Start Printed Page 67235from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), which applies to drivers of commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce, for a 2-year period if it finds “such exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than the level that would be achieved absent such exemption.” The procedures for receiving an exemption (including renewals) are set out in 49 CFR part 381. This notice addresses 16 individuals who have requested renewal of their exemptions in a timely manner. They are: Ronald W. Coe, Sr., James A. Creed, Earl D. Edland, Lloyd E. Hall, Steven H. Heidorn, Dale H. Hellmann, Danny E. Hillier, Gary L. Killian, James A. Kneece, Ronald L. Martsching, Garry R. Setters, Jimmy E. Settle, Jesse M. Sikes, Harold A. Sleesman, Buford C. Varnadore, and Hubert Whittenburg. The FMCSA has evaluated these 16 petitions for renewal on their merits and decided to extend each exemption for a renewable 2-year period.

These exemptions are extended subject to the following conditions: (1) That each individual have a physical exam 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 the 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).

Background

On September 23, 1999, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 32 individuals, including 1 of these applicants for renewal, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10)(64 FR 51568). The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of the applicant were stated and discussed in detail at 64 FR 27027 (May 18, 1999). Two comments were received, and their contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the exemption (64 FR 51568).

On January 3, 2000, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 40 individuals, including 1 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 the 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 exemption (65 FR 159).

On April 14, 2000, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 34 individuals, including 1 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 the 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 exemption (65 FR 20251).

On September 21, 2000, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 56 individuals, including 4 of these applicants for renewal, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10)(65 FR 57230). The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail at 65 FR 20245 (April 14, 2000). Three comments were received, and their contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the exemptions (65 FR 57230).

Also on September 21, 2000, the agency published a second notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 60 individuals, including 4 of these applicants for renewal, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) (65 FR 57234). The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail at 65 FR 33406 (May 23, 2000). One comment was received, and its contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the exemptions (65 FR 57234).

On October 9, 1998, the agency published a notice of final disposition announcing its decision to exempt 12 individuals from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) (63 FR 54519). The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail at 63 FR 20385 (June 3, 1998). Three comments were received, and their contents were carefully considered by the agency in reaching its final decision to grant the exemptions (63 FR 54519). On November 3, 2000, the agency published a notice of renewal of exemption for 9 of the 12 individuals, including 5 of these applicants for renewal, from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) (65 FR 66293). At the time of renewal, each applicant submitted evidence showing that the vision in the better eye continued to meet the standard specified at 49 CFR 291.41(b)(10) and that the vision impairment was stable. In addition, a review of each record of safety while driving with the respective vision deficiencies over the 2-year exemption period indicated each applicant continued to meet the vision exemption standards.

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 16 applicants has satisfied the entry conditions for obtaining an exemption from the vision requirements (63 FR 30285, 63 FR 54519, 64 FR 27027, 64 FR 51568, 64 FR 54948, 64 FR 68195, 65 FR 159, 65 FR 20245, 65 FR 20251, 65 FR 33406, 65 FR 57230, and 65 FR 57234), and 5 of the applicants have also satisfied the conditions for renewing an exemption (65 FR 66293). Each of these 16 applicants has requested timely renewal of the exemption and has submitted evidence showing that the vision in the 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 each record of safely while driving with the 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. Start Printed Page 67236

Comments

The FMCSA will review comments received at any time 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). However, the FMCSA requests that interested parties with specific data concerning the safety records of these drivers submit comments by December 4, 2002.

In the past FMCSA has received comments from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) expressing continued opposition to the FMCSA's procedures for renewing exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10). Specifically, Advocates 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 Advocates were addressed at length in 66 FR 17994 (April 4, 2001). The FMCSA continues to find its exemption process appropriate to the statutory and regulatory requirements.

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Issued on October 29, 2002.

Brian M. McLaughlin,

Associate Administrator, Policy and Program Development.

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[FR Doc. 02-27992 Filed 11-1-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-EX-M