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Notice

Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Diabetes

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 final disposition.

SUMMARY:

FMCSA announces its decision to exempt twenty-four individuals from its rule prohibiting persons with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus (ITDM) from operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. The exemptions will enable these individuals to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

DATES:

The exemptions are effective October 19, 2009. The exemptions expire on October 19, 2011.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dr. Mary D. Gunnels, Director, Medical Programs, (202) 366-4001, fmcsamedical@dot.gov, FMCSA, Room W64-224, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

You may see all the comments online through the Federal Document Management System (FDMS) at: http://www.regulations.gov.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments, go to http://www.regulations.gov and/or Room W12-140 on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Privacy Act: Anyone may search the electronic form of all comments received into any of DOT's dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or of the person signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, or other entity). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register (65 FR 19477, Apr. 11, 2000). This statement is also available at http://Docketinfo.dot.gov.

Background

On August 17, 2009, FMCSA published a notice of receipt of Federal diabetes exemption applications from Start Printed Page 53584twenty-four individuals, and requested comments from the public (74 FR 41486). The public comment period closed on September 16, 2009 and one comment was received.

FMCSA has evaluated the eligibility of the twenty-four applicants and determined that granting the exemptions to these individuals would achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by complying with the current regulation 49 CFR 391.41(b)(3).

Diabetes Mellitus and Driving Experience of the Applicants

The Agency established the current standard for diabetes in 1970 because several risk studies indicated that diabetic drivers had a higher rate of crash involvement than the general population. The diabetes rule provides that “A person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if that person has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus currently requiring insulin for control” (49 CFR 391.41(b)(3)).

FMCSA established its diabetes exemption program, based on the Agency's July 2000 study entitled “A Report to Congress on the Feasibility of a Program to Qualify Individuals with Insulin-Treated Diabetes Mellitus to Operate in Interstate Commerce as Directed by the Transportation Act for the 21st Century.” The report concluded that a safe and practicable protocol to allow some drivers with ITDM to operate CMVs is feasible. The 2003 notice in conjunction with the November 8, 2005 (70 FR 67777) Federal Register notice provides the current protocol for allowing such drivers to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

These twenty-four applicants have had ITDM over a range of 1 to 27 years. These applicants report no hypoglycemic reaction that resulted in loss of consciousness or seizure, that required the assistance of another person, or resulted in impaired cognitive function without warning symptoms in the past 5 years (with one year of stability following any such episode). In each case, an endocrinologist has verified that the driver has demonstrated willingness to properly monitor and manage their diabetes, received education related to diabetes management, and is on a stable insulin regimen. These drivers report no other disqualifying conditions, including diabetes-related complications. Each meets the vision standard at 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10).

The qualifications and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail in the August 17, 2009, Federal Register notice (74 FR 41486). Therefore, they will not be repeated in this notice.

Basis for Exemption Determination

Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption from the diabetes standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(3) if the exemption is likely to achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved without the exemption. The exemption allows the applicants to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

To evaluate the effect of these exemptions on safety, FMCSA considered medical reports about the applicants' ITDM and vision, and reviewed the treating endocrinologist's medical opinion related to the ability of the driver to safely operate a CMV while using insulin.

Consequently, FMCSA finds that exempting these applicants from the diabetes standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(3) is likely to achieve a level of safety equal to that existing without the exemption.

Conditions and Requirements

The terms and conditions of the exemption will be provided to the applicants in the exemption document and they include the following: (1) That each individual submit a quarterly monitoring checklist completed by the treating endocrinologist as well as an annual checklist with a comprehensive medical evaluation; (2) that each individual reports within 2 business days of occurrence, all episodes of severe hypoglycemia, significant complications, or inability to manage diabetes; also, any involvement in an accident or any other adverse event in a CMV or personal vehicle, whether or not they are related to an episode of hypoglycemia; (3) 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 (4) that each individual provide a copy of the annual medical certification to the employer for retention in the driver's qualification file, or keep a copy in his/her driver's qualification file if he/she is self-employed. The driver must also have a copy of the certification when driving, for presentation to a duly authorized Federal, State, or local enforcement official.

Discussion of Comments

FMCSA received one comment in this proceeding. The comment was received from Mr. Kenneth Youngblood. He stated that drivers with ITDM are not second class citizens and that there are no studies that conclude that they are more at-risk drivers. Mr. Youngblood also stated that it is wrong and discriminatory for drivers with ITDM to be singled out.

In response to this comment, FMCSA's exemption process supports drivers with ITDM who seek to operate in interstate commerce. In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) are not contrary to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The mandates of the ADA do not require that FMCSA alter the driver qualification requirements contained in 49 CFR Part 391. The Senate report on the ADA, submitted by its Committee on Labor and Human Resources, included the following explanation:

With respect to covered entities subject to rules promulgated by the Department of Transportation regarding physical qualifications for drivers of certain classifications of motor vehicles, it is the Committee's intent that a person with a disability applying for or currently holding a job subject to these standards must be able to satisfy these physical qualification standards in order to be considered a qualified individual with a disability under Title I of this legislation. S. Rep. 101-116, at 27 (1989).

FMSCA relies on the expert medical opinion of the endocrinologist and the medical examiner, who are required to analyze individual ability to control and manage the diabetic condition, including the individual ability and willingness of the driver to monitor blood glucose level on an ongoing basis. Until the Agency issues a Final Rule, however, insulin-treated diabetic drivers must continue to apply for exemptions from FMCSA, and request renewals of such exemptions. FMCSA will grant exemptions only to those applicants who meet the specific conditions and comply with all the requirements of the exemption.

Conclusion

After considering the comments to the docket, and based upon its evaluation of the twenty-four exemption applications, FMCSA exempts, Tawnya E. Benner, Lowell R. Brown, Gerald R. Claypool, Robert J. Dupuis, Glenn R. Edwards, John H. Forchette, Jr., Robert A. Gibson, Blaine H. Holmes, Gerald E. Huelle, Edward L. Johnson, Mary V. Johnson, Roger L. Kaufman, Kenneth A. Leeker, Paul L. Meier, Clifford L. Rayl, Robert J. Schafer, Steven J. Shaw, Scott L. Stamstad, Kendell R. Strassman, Allan A. Vanderhamm, Maurice L. Wedel, Michael R. Wellman, Thomas C. Wilson, and Wayne W. Zander from the ITDM Start Printed Page 53585standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(3), subject to the conditions listed under “Conditions and Requirements” above.

In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 each exemption will be valid for two years unless revoked earlier by 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. 31136(e) and 31315. If the exemption is still effective at the end of the 2-year period, the person may apply to FMCSA for a renewal under procedures in effect at that time.

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Issued on: October 6, 2009.

Larry W. Minor,

Associate Administrator for Policy and Program Development.

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[FR Doc. E9-25101 Filed 10-16-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P