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Notice

Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision

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AGENCY:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of applications for exemptions; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

FMCSA announces receipt of applications from 12 individuals for exemption from the vision requirement in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce. If granted, the exemptions will enable these individuals to operate CMVs in interstate commerce without meeting the vision requirement in one eye.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before August 28, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Docket No. FMCSA-2017-0019 using any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., E.T., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
  • Fax: 1-202-493-2251.

Instructions: Each submission must include the Agency name and the docket numbers for this notice. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading below for further information.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments, go to http://www.regulations.gov at any time 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., E.T., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The FDMS is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. If you want acknowledgment that we received your comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard or print the acknowledgement page that appears after submitting comments on-line.

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 http://www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at http://www.dot.gov/​privacy.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Christine A. Hydock, Chief, Medical Programs Division, (202) 366-4001, fmcsamedical@dot.gov, FMCSA, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W64-224, Washington, DC 20590-0001. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. If you have questions regarding viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for a two-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.” FMCSA can renew exemptions at the end of each two-year period.

The 12 individuals listed in this notice have each requested such an exemption from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10). Accordingly, the Agency will evaluate the qualifications of each applicant to determine whether granting an exemption will achieve the required level of safety mandated by statute.

The physical qualification standard for drivers regarding vision found in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) states that a person is physically qualified to drive a CMV if that person:

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° 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.

In July 1992, the Agency first published the criteria for the Vision Waiver Program, which listed the conditions and reporting standards that CMV drivers approved for participation would need to meet (Qualification of Drivers; Vision Waivers, 57 FR 31458, July 16, 1992). The current Vision Exemption Program was established in 1998, following the enactment of amendments to the statutes governing exemptions made by § 4007 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Public Law 105-178, 112 Stat. 107, 401 (June 9, 1998). Vision exemptions are considered under the procedures established in 49 CFR part Start Printed Page 35044381 subpart C, on a case-by-case basis upon application by CMV drivers who do not meet the vision standards of 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10).

To qualify for an exemption from the vision requirement, FMCSA requires a person to present verifiable evidence that he/she has driven a commercial vehicle safely with the vision deficiency for the past three years. Recent driving performance is especially important in evaluating future safety, according to several research studies designed to correlate past and future driving performance. Results of these studies support the principle that the best predictor of future performance by a driver is his/her past record of crashes and traffic violations. Copies of the studies may be found at Docket Number FMCSA-1998-3637.

FMCSA believes it can properly apply the principle to monocular drivers, because data from the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) former waiver study program clearly demonstrated the driving performance of experienced monocular drivers in the program is better than that of all CMV drivers collectively (See 61 FR 13338, 13345, March 26, 1996). The fact that experienced monocular drivers demonstrated safe driving records in the waiver program supports a conclusion that other monocular drivers, meeting the same qualifying conditions as those required by the waiver program, are also likely to have adapted to their vision deficiency and will continue to operate safely.

The first major research correlating past and future performance was done in England by Greenwood and Yule in 1920. Subsequent studies, building on that model, concluded that crash rates for the same individual exposed to certain risks for two different time periods vary only slightly (See Bates and Neyman, University of California Publications in Statistics, April 1952). Other studies demonstrated theories of predicting crash proneness from crash history coupled with other factors. These factors—such as age, sex, geographic location, mileage driven and conviction history—are used every day by insurance companies and motor vehicle bureaus to predict the probability of an individual experiencing future crashes (See Weber, Donald C., “Accident Rate Potential: An Application of Multiple Regression Analysis of a Poisson Process,” Journal of American Statistical Association, June 1971). A 1964 California Driver Record Study prepared by the California Department of Motor Vehicles concluded that the best overall crash predictor for both concurrent and nonconcurrent events is the number of single convictions. This study used three consecutive years of data, comparing the experiences of drivers in the first two years with their experiences in the final year.

II. Qualifications of Applicants

Thomas A. Barber

Mr. Barber, 43, has had amblyopia in his right eye since childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/60, and in his left eye, 20/15. Following an examination in 2017, his optometrist stated, “Since Mr. Barber is well adapted to his condition and has been a commercial truck driver for many years, I feel he is safe to continue driving and has sufficient vision to perform the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Barber reported that he has driven tractor-trailer combinations for 15 years, accumulating 1.87 million miles. He holds a Class A CDL from North Carolina. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Nazar B. Bihun

Mr. Bihun, 30, has optic nerve pallor in his right eye due to a traumatic incident in 2011. The visual acuity in his right eye is no light perception, and in his left eye, 20/20. Following an examination in 2016, his optometrist stated, “His visual deficiency is stable and in my medical opinion he does have sufficient vision to perform the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Bihun reported that he has driven straight trucks for eight years, accumulating 360,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for five years, accumulating 25,000 miles. He holds a Class B CDL from Pennsylvania. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Patrick J. Conner

Mr. Conner, 45, has chorioretinal scarring in his left eye due to a traumatic incident in 2014. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/15, and in his left eye, count fingers. Following an examination in 2017, his optometrist stated, “It is my opinion that Patrick Conner has vision that is safe to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Conner reported that he has driven straight trucks for 11 years, accumulating 165,000 miles. He holds a Class B CDL from Oklahoma. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Jay D. Diebel

Mr. Diebel, 58, has had amblyopia in his left eye since childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/25, and in his left eye, 20/400. Following an examination in 2017, his ophthalmologist stated, “This patient has no restrictions to operate a commercial vehicle based on his ocular testing.” Mr. Diebel reported that he has driven straight trucks for 17 years, accumulating 255,000 miles. He holds a Class CA CDL from Michigan. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Danny G. Goodman, Jr.

Mr. Goodman, 44, has had amblyopia in his right eye since childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/150, and in his left eye, 20/20. Following an examination in 2017, his optometrist stated, “He appears to have sufficient vision to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Goodman reported that he has driven straight trucks for 12 years, accumulating 60,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for seven years, accumulating 135,000 miles. He holds a Class A CDL from Texas. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Randy N. Grandfield

Mr. Grandfield, 59, has had amblyopia in his right eye since childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/200, and in his left eye, 20/20. Following an examination in 2017, his optometrist stated, “It is my opinion that Mr. Grandfield's vision should not prevent him from operating a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Grandfield reported that he has driven straight trucks for 35 years, accumulating 560,000 miles. He holds a Class A CDL from Vermont. His driving record for the last three years shows one crash, to which he did contribute but was not cited, and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Edgar A. Ideler

Mr. Ideler, 60, has had complete loss of vision in his right eye since 2014. The visual acuity in his right eye is no light perception, and in his left eye, 20/20. Following an examination in 2017, his ophthalmologist stated, “Does this person have sufficient vision to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely: Yes.” Mr. Ideler reported that he has driven straight trucks for 39 years, accumulating 780,000 miles, and Start Printed Page 35045tractor-trailer combinations for 39 years, accumulating 780,000 miles. He holds a Class AM CDL from Illinois. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Dennis R. Jones

Mr. Jones, 55, has aphakia in his left eye due to a traumatic incident in 2007. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/15, and in his left eye, 20/150. Following an examination in 2017, his ophthalmologist stated, “In my medical opinion Mr. Jones has sufficient vision to perform to perform [sic] the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle as defined by requirements found in Federal Register Vol. 78, No. 243 page 76591, (6)-(9).” Mr. Jones reported that he has driven straight trucks for six years, accumulating 300,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for seven years, accumulating 350,000 miles. He holds a Class A CDL from Texas. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Rufus L. Jones

Mr. Jones, 59, has a retinal scar in his right eye due to a traumatic incident in childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/80, and in his left eye, 20/20. Following an examination in 2016, his ophthalmologist stated, “In my opinion, he has sufficient vision to perform the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Jones reported that he has driven straight trucks for four years, accumulating 144,000 miles, and buses for seven years, accumulating 700,000 miles. He holds a Class B CDL from New Jersey. His driving record for the last three years shows one crash and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Derek J. Savko

Mr. Savko, 35, has optic nerve atrophy in his left eye due to a traumatic incident in childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/20, and in his left eye, no light perception. Following an examination in 2016, his ophthalmologist stated, “It is my opinion that he has sufficient vision in the right eye to perform his driving tasks as required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Savko reported that he has driven straight trucks for 13 years, accumulating 162,500 miles. He holds a Class B CDL from Montana. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

John J. Tilton

Mr. Tilton, 47, has a prosthetic right eye due to a traumatic incident in 1986. The visual acuity in his right eye is no light perception, and in his left eye, 20/20. Following an examination in 2017, his ophthalmologist stated, “In my medical opinion, John's visual acuity, Visual Field [sic], and color vision show that he can continue to perform driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Tilton reported that he has driven straight trucks for three years, accumulating 25,000 miles. He holds a Class B CDL from New Hampshire. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Randy D. VanScoy

Mr. VanScoy, 60, has had amblyopia in his left eye since birth. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/20, and in his left eye, 20/200. Following an examination in 2017, his optometrist stated, “Diagnosis congenital amblyopia. This patient meets the requirements to drive a commercial vehicle. He shows no deficit in his visual field.” Mr. VanScoy reported that he has driven tractor-trailer combinations for 42 years, accumulating 3.1 million miles. He holds a Class A CDL from Iowa. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

III. Request for Comments

In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA requests public comment from all interested persons on the exemption petitions described in this notice. We will consider all comments and material received before the close of business on the closing date indicated in the dates section of the notice.

IV. Submitting Comments

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 that FMCSA can contact you if there are questions regarding your submission.

To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov and in the search box insert the docket number FMCSA-2017-0019 and click the search button. When the new screen appears, click on the blue “Comment Now!” button on the right hand side of the page. On the new page, enter information required including the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 81/2 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.

We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. FMCSA may issue a final determination at any time after the close of the comment period.

V. Viewing Comments and Documents

To view comments, as well as any documents mentioned in this preamble, go to http://www.regulations.gov and in the search box insert the docket number FMCSA-2017-0019 and click “Search.” Next, click “Open Docket Folder” and you will find all documents and comments related to this notice.

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Issued on: July 19, 2017.

Larry W. Minor,

Associate Administrator for Policy.

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[FR Doc. 2017-15842 Filed 7-26-17; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P