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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 exemption; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

FMCSA announces receipt of applications from 12 individuals for an 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 October 10, 2018.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0017 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 number(s) 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 Start Printed Page 45751acknowledgment that we received your comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard or print the acknowledgement page that appears after submitting comments online.

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 FMCSRs for a five-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 statute also allows the Agency to renew exemptions at the end of the five-year period. FMCSA grants exemptions from the FMCSRs for a two-year period to align with the maximum duration of a driver's medical certification.

The 12 individuals listed in this notice have requested 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 381 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

John A. Edison

Mr. Edison, 66, has had a macular scar in his left eye since 2001. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/20, and in his left eye, 20/80. Following an examination in 2018, his optometrist stated, “With both eyes working together, Mr. Edison has sufficient vision to operate and drive a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Edison reported that he has driven straight trucks for 50 years, accumulating 600,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for 20 years, accumulating 1.92 million miles. He holds a Class A CDL from Georgia. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Rodney P. Hains

Mr. Hains, 58, has had a retinal detachment in his left eye since 2003. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/15, and in his left eye, no light perception. Following an examination in 2018, his optometrist stated, “Based on that history and experience it would appear to me that he has sufficient visual capability to safely operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Hains reported that he has driven straight trucks for five years, accumulating 5,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for 20 years, accumulating 1.4 million miles. He holds a Class A CDL from North Dakota. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no Start Printed Page 45752convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Darryl D. Kelley

Mr. Kelley, 46, has had a macular hole in his right eye since childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/100, and in his left eye, 20/25. Following an examination in 2018, his optometrist stated, “My medical opinion is that he has sufficient vision to perform all driving tasks for a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Kelley reported that he has driven buses for 23 years, accumulating 1.42 million miles. He holds a Class B CDL from Texas. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Thomas J. Knapp

Mr. Knapp, 58, has had amblyopia in his left eye since birth. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/15, and in his left eye, 20/150. Following an examination in 2018, his optometrist stated, “It is my professional opinion that Mr [sic] Knapp has sufficient vision to perform the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Knapp reported that he has driven buses for three years, accumulating 60,000 miles. He holds a Class A CDL from Washington. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Darrell D. Kropf

Mr. Kropf, 43, has had amblyopia in his left eye since childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/20, and in his left eye, 20/400. Following an examination in 2018, his ophthalmologist stated, “In my opinion the patient has sufficient vision to perform the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Kropf reported that he has driven tractor-trailer combinations for 21 years, accumulating 945,000 miles. He holds a Class A CDL from California. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Nathanael Lee

Mr. Lee, 22, has had amblyopia in his left eye since childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/20, and in his left eye, 20/400. Following an examination in 2018, his ophthalmologist stated, “In my opinion he does have sufficient vision and is well adapted to his vision in order to operate a commercial vehicle for driving tasks.” Mr. Lee reported that he has driven straight trucks for two years, accumulating 9,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for three years, accumulating 75,000 miles. He holds a Class A CDL from Minnesota. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

John G. Mudd

Mr. Mudd, 53, had his left eye enucleated due to a traumatic incident in 2015. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/20, and in his left eye, no light perception. Following an examination in 2018, his optometrist stated, “Mr. Mudd has sufficient vision to perform the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Mudd reported that he has driven straight trucks for five years, accumulating 50,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for five years, accumulating 75,000 miles. He holds a Class DA CDL from Kentucky. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Jeffrey Ridenhour

Mr. Ridenhour, 48, has a macular scar in his right eye due to a traumatic incident in 1998. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/80, and in his left eye, 20/20. Following an examination in 2018, his optometrist stated, “In my medical opinion, Mr. Ridenhour has sufficient enough vision to perform the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Ridenhour reported that he has driven tractor-trailer combinations for four years, accumulating 32,000 miles. He holds a Class A CDL from Arkansas. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

John R. Russ II

Mr. Russ, 71, has a prosthetic left eye due to a traumatic incident in 2010. The visual acuity in his right eye is no light perception, and in his left eye, 20/20. Following an examination in 2018, his ophthalmologist stated, “In my opinion, his vision in the left eye is sufficient to perform the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Russ reported that he has driven straight trucks for 45 years, accumulating 675,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for 35 years, accumulating 350,000 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.

Gary A. Ulitsch

Mr. Ulitsch, 64, has had amblyopia in his left eye since birth. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/25, and in his left eye, 20/160. Following an examination in 2018, his optometrist stated, “In my medical opinion, he has vision sufficient [sic] to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Ulitsch reported that he has driven straight trucks for 46 years, accumulating 460,000 miles. He holds an operator's license from Connecticut. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

Casey O. Wootan

Mr. Wootan, 48, has had amblyopia in his left eye since childhood. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/15, and in his left eye, 20/200. Following an examination in 2018, his optometrist stated, “In my medical opinion, Casey Wootan has sufficient vision to perform the driving tasks required to operate a commercial vehicle.” Mr. Wootan reported that he has driven straight trucks for 20 years, accumulating 100,000 miles, and tractor-trailer combinations for 15 years, accumulating 600,000 miles. He holds a Class A CDL from Montana. His driving record for the last three years shows no crashes and no convictions for moving violations in a CMV.

James C. Wright

Mr. Wright, 42, has a retinal scar in his right eye due to a traumatic incident in 2008. The visual acuity in his right eye is 20/200, and in his left eye, 20/20. Following an examination in 2018, his optometrist stated, “Mr. Wright's condition is stable and I feel he should be able to operate a commercial vehicle safely without correction.” Mr. Wright reported that he has driven straight trucks for ten years, accumulating 50,000 miles. He holds a Class B CDL from Minnesota. 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 Start Printed Page 45753address, 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-2018-0017 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 materials 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-2018-0017 and click “Search.” Next, click “Open Docket Folder” and you will find all documents and comments related to this notice.

Start Signature

Issued on: August 30, 2018

Larry W. Minor,

Associate Administrator for Policy.

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[FR Doc. 2018-19581 Filed 9-7-18; 8:45 am]

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