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FMCSA medical board wants tighter standards for drivers with vision loss

Panel adopts health care company’s recommendations on field-of-vision requirements

Review board advises tightening field-of-vision standards for drivers with vision loss. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

A review board that advises federal regulators on medical standards for truck drivers recommends stricter standards for drivers with vision loss than originally proposed.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Medical Review Board (MRB), a five-member panel of physicians that provides expert advice to the agency, recommends that the current field-of-vision requirement for drivers with vision loss in one eye be changed from 70 degrees to 120 degrees in a proposed alternative vision standard being considered by FMCSA.

The alternative standard was part of a rulemaking proposal that opened for public comment in January. It included provisions aimed at allowing those with vision loss in one eye who meet the new standard to be deemed qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) without having to apply to the FMCSA for an exemption.

In addition to the field-of-vision requirement, the alternative standard requires that drivers have at least 20/40 vision in their better eye, be able to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green and amber, and have a vision deficiency that is stable.

The rulemaking generated 69 comments, including a recommendation from the health care company Concentra that the original field-of-vision requirement proposed by FMCSA be tightened.

“The field of vision issue needs to be addressed,” the company stated in comments filed in March.

“FMCSA has long considered 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian in each eye to be sufficient. However, normal field of vision is twice that. A driver with monocular vision and a field of horizontal vision that meets the 70 degree minimum has a markedly decreased field of vision. We would recommend that 120 degrees bilaterally be considered the minimum acceptable standard … and drivers not meeting this standard be disqualified.”

The MRB supported Concentra’s recommendation and incorporated it in its review of the proposed rule which it submitted to the agency in July. The FMCSA is opening a 30-day comment period starting Tuesday for the public to respond to MRB’s recommendations.

Drivers who cannot meet either the current distant-visual-acuity or field-of-vision standard, or both, in one eye are prohibited from driving commercial trucks in interstate commerce unless they obtain an exemption from FMCSA. Under the current exemption program, drivers with a vision deficiency in one eye are required to have three years of driving experience with the vision deficiency within a state.

However, those who qualify under the proposed alternate vision standard would complete a road test, conducted by the carrier, before operating in interstate commerce. Drivers would be waived from the road test requirement if they have three years of intrastate or excepted interstate CMV driving experience with the vision deficiency, hold a valid federal vision exemption, or are medically certified.

“FMCSA finds that a road test would be an appropriate indicator of an individual’s ability to operate a CMV safely with the vision deficiency,” the agency stated.

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  1. Edward F Sluss

    Why keep on creating a reason to get rid of Professional Experienced TRUCK Drivers,Can you all not use some common sense here? Look at what you caused the industry to suffer when you FMCSA attacked the companies in 2012 under Obama with SLEEP APNEA and Diabetes issues to cause over 150,000 experienced drivers to have to EXIT the industry with thousands of years of experience in transportation among all of those drivers that were required to turn in their CDL and causing AMERICAS FOOD SUPPLIES AND GOODS distribution wrehses to struggle in shipments!! Not only that a 100,000 drivers had to hit the highways inexperienced on putting a Large Vessel weighing 80,000lbsacross the United States not knowing how to control a Semi in Ice and Snow and devastating WIND AND RAINSTORMS, which resulted in ACCIDENTS CLIMBING COMPLETELY OFF THE SCALE CHART.Under President Trump a few 100 of those drivers that were took out of the professional industry under Obama were allowed to return because of new health inventions and different ways of health care and the Transportation Industry has just now regained a very small fraction of SAFE OPERATIONS again SO NOW HERE YOU FMCSA UNDER THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION WHICH IS NO DIFFERENT THAN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OPERATING TRANSPORTATION ARE CHOOSING TO TURN RIGHT BACK AROUND AND KILL THE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM AGAIN BY REMOVING EXPERIENCED DRIVERS FOR SOMETHING LIKE VISION??? That is corrected with proper eyeglass WEAR. This is nothing more than taking jobs away from AMERICANS AGAIN TO BE REPLACED WITH FOREIGNERS FROM MEXICO AND OTHER COUNTRIES THAT DOES NOT UNDERSTAND OUR LAWS AND REGULATIONS AND KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT OUR HIGHWAY SYSTEMS AND WILL RESULT IN MILLIONS OF DEATHS TO AMERICANS JUST LIKE UNDER OBAMA GO BACK AND CHECK THE SAFETY SCALE FROM 2010 to 2016 when FMCSA decided to kill the transportation system under Obama and check the Safety Scale under President Trump from 2017 to Jan.2021 and see which was operating the safest!! FMCSA stop creating hazards to the TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM OF AMERICA AND ENCORCE THE 100s of 1000s of REGULATIONS ALREADY IN PLACE!!!

  2. Scott Campbell

    I have been driving straight truck for almost 40 years. This is just another push to end the trucking business. It is by MORONS who are not smart enough to realize ; no trucks, no anything. When everything was desperately short last year, you would think people would learn. They don’t . I guess it is time for a nationwide shutdown by drivers. If we all refuse to deliver anything; including food, fuel, clothing, medical supplies,etc , they would have no choice to give in

    1. Anthony Green

      Once again the Feds are Gestopotizing our drivers with these harsh rules. The Government needs to do the same for people who want to drive their cars as well. If the Feds keeps screwing the working class in the 🚛 industry, I predict sooner or later drivers will get tied and whether you’re Union,Non-Uion, Independent or Owner Operators,it can lead to some problems like a National Shut Down. Remember Feds without Trucks,the US Economy will go down the Sewer Big Time! Be Careful Feds!

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.