Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision, 9397-9399 [E7-3514]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 40 / Thursday, March 1, 2007 / Notices per year. However, we have no way of determining where these funds will be spent instead, so are unable to provide this information. No managers have received or will receive extra compensation for its implementation. This policy change is not a ‘‘business plan’’ item but supports an FAA Flight Plan item. Issued in Washington, DC, on February 26, 2007. Susan J.M. Cabler, Acting Manager, Aircraft Engineering Division, Aircraft Certification Service. [FR Doc. 07–921 Filed 2–28–07; 8:45 am] the plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., 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://dms.dot.gov. BILLING CODE 4910–13–M DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [Docket No. FMCSA–2006–25246] Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT. ACTION: Notice of final disposition. AGENCY: SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to exempt 33 individuals from the vision requirement in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The exemptions will enable these individuals to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce without meeting the prescribed vision standard. The Agency has concluded that granting these exemptions will provide a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety maintained without the exemptions for these CMV drivers. DATES: The exemptions are effective March 1, 2007. The exemptions expire on March 2, 2009. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Mary D. Gunnels, Chief, Physical Qualifications Division, (202) 366–4001, maggi.gunnels@dot.gov, FMCSA, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Room 8301, Washington, DC 20590–0001. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES Electronic Access You may see all the comments online through the Document Management System (DMS) at http://dmses.dot.gov. Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http:// dms.dot.gov and/or Room PL–401 on VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:01 Feb 28, 2007 Jkt 211001 Background On January 3, 2007, FMCSA published a notice of receipt of exemption applications from certain individuals, and requested comments from the public (72 FR 180). That notice listed 33 applicants’ case histories, but it incorrectly indicated there were 32. The 33 individuals applied for exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), for drivers who operate CMVs in interstate commerce. Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption for a 2year 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 2-year period. Accordingly, FMCSA has evaluated the 33 applications on their merits and made a determination to grant exemptions to all of them. The comment period closed on February 2, 2007. Vision and Driving Experience of the Applicants The vision requirement in the FMCSRs provides: A person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle 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 a 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 (49 CFR 391.41(b)(10)). FMCSA recognizes that some drivers do not meet the vision standard, but have adapted their driving to accommodate their vision limitation and demonstrated their ability to drive safely. The 33 exemption applicants PO 00000 Frm 00096 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 9397 listed in this notice are in this category. They are unable to meet the vision standard in one eye for various reasons, including amblyopia, macular scar, retinal detachment, corneal scarring, prosthesis, corneal opacity, optic atrophy, ocular histoplasmosis syndrome, retinal vein occlusion, cataract, and loss of vision due to trauma. In most cases, their eye conditions were not recently developed. All but ten of the applicants were either born with their vision impairments or have had them since childhood. The ten individuals who sustained their vision conditions as adults have had them for periods ranging from 4 to 25 years. Although each applicant has one eye which does not meet the vision standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), each has at least 20/40 corrected vision in the other eye, and in a doctor’s opinion, has sufficient vision to perform all the tasks necessary to operate a CMV. Doctors’ opinions are supported by the applicants’ possession of valid commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) or non-CDLs to operate CMVs. Before issuing CDLs, States subject drivers to knowledge and skills tests designed to evaluate their qualifications to operate a CMV. All these applicants satisfied the testing standards for their State of residence. By meeting State licensing requirements, the applicants demonstrated their ability to operate a commercial vehicle, with their limited vision, to the satisfaction of the State. While possessing a valid CDL or nonCDL, these 33 drivers have been authorized to drive a CMV in intrastate commerce, even though their vision disqualified them from driving in interstate commerce. They have driven CMVs with their limited vision for careers ranging from 4 to 25 years. In the past 3 years, five of the drivers have had convictions for traffic violations and two of them were involved in crashes. The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail in the January 3, 2007 Notice (72 FR 180). Basis for Exemption Determination Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption from the vision standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) if the exemption is likely to achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved without the exemption. Without the exemption, applicants will continue to be restricted to intrastate driving. With the exemption, applicants can drive in interstate commerce. Thus, our analysis focuses on whether an equal or greater level of safety is likely to be achieved by permitting each of these drivers to drive E:\FR\FM\01MRN1.SGM 01MRN1 rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES 9398 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 40 / Thursday, March 1, 2007 / Notices in interstate commerce as opposed to restricting him or her to driving in intrastate commerce. To evaluate the effect of these exemptions on safety, FMCSA considered not only the medical reports about the applicants’ vision, but also their driving records and experience with the vision deficiency. To qualify for an exemption from the vision standard, FMCSA requires a person to present verifiable evidence that he/she has driven a commercial vehicle safely with the vision deficiency for 3 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–98– 3637. We believe we can properly apply the principle to monocular drivers, because data from the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) former waiver study program clearly demonstrate 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, VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:01 Feb 28, 2007 Jkt 211001 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 3 consecutive years of data, comparing the experiences of drivers in the first 2 years with their experiences in the final year. Applying principles from these studies to the past 3-year record of the 33 applicants, four of the applicants had traffic violations for speeding, one applicant failed to obey a traffic sign, and two of the applicants were involved in crashes. The applicants achieved this record of safety while driving with their vision impairment, demonstrating the likelihood that they have adapted their driving skills to accommodate their condition. As the applicants’ ample driving histories with their vision deficiencies are good predictors of future performance, FMCSA concludes their ability to drive safely can be projected into the future. We believe the applicants’ intrastate driving experience and history provide an adequate basis for predicting their ability to drive safely in interstate commerce. Intrastate driving, like interstate operations, involves substantial driving on highways on the interstate system and on other roads built to interstate standards. Moreover, driving in congested urban areas exposes the driver to more pedestrian and vehicular traffic than exists on interstate highways. Faster reaction to traffic and traffic signals is generally required because distances between them are more compact. These conditions tax visual capacity and driver response just as intensely as interstate driving conditions. The veteran drivers in this proceeding have operated CMVs safely under those conditions for at least 3 years, most for much longer. Their experience and driving records lead us to believe that each applicant is capable of operating in interstate commerce as safely as he/she has been performing in intrastate commerce. Consequently, FMCSA finds that exempting these applicants from the vision standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) is likely to achieve a level of safety equal to that existing without the exemption. For this reason, the Agency is granting the exemptions for the 2-year period allowed by 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to the 33 applicants listed in the notice of January 3, 2007 (72 FR 180). We recognize that the vision of an applicant may change and affect his/her ability to operate a CMV as safely as in the past. As a condition of the PO 00000 Frm 00097 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 exemption, therefore, FMCSA will impose requirements on the 33 individuals consistent with the grandfathering provisions applied to drivers who participated in the Agency’s vision waiver program. Those requirements are found at 49 CFR 391.64(b) and include the following: (1) That each individual be physically examined 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, or keep a copy in his/her driver’s qualification file if he/she is selfemployed. 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 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) expressed opposition to FMCSA’s policy to grant exemptions from the FMCSRs, including the driver qualification standards. Specifically, Advocates: (1) Objects to the manner in which FMCSA presents driver information to the public and makes safety determinations; (2) objects to the Agency’s reliance on conclusions drawn from the vision waiver program; (3) claims the Agency has misinterpreted statutory language on the granting of exemptions (49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315); and finally (4) suggests that a 1999 Supreme Court decision affects the legal validity of vision exemptions. The issues raised by Advocates were addressed at length in 64 FR 51568 (September 23, 1999), 64 FR 66962 (November 30, 1999), 64 FR 69586 (December 13, 1999), 65 FR 159 (January 3, 2000), 65 FR 57230 (September 21, 2000), and 66 FR 13825 (March 7, 2001). We will not address these points again here, but refer interested parties to those earlier discussions. One individual opposes the granting of vision exemptions to vision impaired drivers with moving violations within a 3-year period. She believes that granting vision exemptions to such drivers makes the roads more dangerous. Another individual stated anonymously, in response to the first comment, that he/she is in support of granting E:\FR\FM\01MRN1.SGM 01MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 40 / Thursday, March 1, 2007 / Notices exemptions to individuals who have minimal moving violations and that being in the program promotes a driver to maintain a safe driving record. In regard to the two comments, the discussion under the heading, ‘‘Basis for Exemption Determination,’’ explains in detail the evaluation methods the Agency utilizes prior to granting an exemption to ensure that the granting of an exemption is likely to achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved without the exemption. To evaluate the effect of these exemptions on safety, FMCSA considered not only the medical reports about the applicants’ vision, but also their driving records and experience with the vision deficiency, and found that all 33 applicants met the Program’s eligibility criteria. FMCSA will continue to monitor each applicant’s driving safety record on a semi-annual basis to ensure continued compliance with the Program. Another anonymous individual believes that if a driver has a driving history with the vision deficiency and he/she has had no accidents, then the process should not take so long. The Agency has 180 days from the date a completed application is submitted to make a final determination whether to grant the exemption. FMCSA strives to expedite the processing of all applications received and is often successful in completing the process in less time. It is the Agency’s responsibility to ensure that the granting of an exemption is likely to achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved without the exemption. rmajette on PROD1PC67 with NOTICES Conclusion Based upon its evaluation of the 33 exemption applications, FMCSA exempts Kreis C. Baldridge, James L. Baynes, Daniel H. Bungartz, Thomas L. Carter, Orlando Colon, Donald D. Daniels, Jimmy W. Deadwyler, William E. Dolson, Michael A. Fouch, Paul R. Kerpsie, Gerald D. Larson, Carl A. Lohrbach, Donald R. McCracken, Sharon D. McDaniel, Larry E. McMillan, James E. Menz, William F. Nickel, Jeffrey L. Olson, John J. Payne, Chris H. Pedersen, Timmy J. Pottebaum, Jerald W. Rehnke, Donnie R. Riggs, Luis H. Sanchez, James A. Shepard, Timothy L. Shorey, Herbert W. Smith, Phillip L. Smith, Randall S. Surber, Roger A. Thein, Jr., Ernest W. Waff, Mikiel J. Wagner, and Joseph W. Wigley from the vision requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), subject to the requirements cited above (49 CFR 391.64(b)). VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:01 Feb 28, 2007 Jkt 211001 In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, each exemption will be valid for 2 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 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. Issued on: February 23, 2007. Larry W. Minor, Office Director, Bus and Truck Standards and Operations. [FR Doc. E7–3514 Filed 2–28–07; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–EX–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [Docket No. FMCSA–2006–26600] Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Diabetes Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). ACTION: Notice of applications for exemption from the diabetes standard; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: FMCSA announces receipt of applications from 55 individuals for exemptions from the prohibition against persons with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus (ITDM) operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. If granted, the exemptions would enable these individuals with ITDM to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 2, 2007. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by Department of Transportation (DOT) Docket Management System (DMS) Docket Number FMCSA–2006–26600 using any of the following methods: • Web Site: http://dmses.dot.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the DOT electronic docket site. • Fax: 1–202–493–2251. • Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Nassif Building, Room PL–401, Washington, DC 20590– 0001. • Hand Delivery: Room PL–401 on the plaza level of the Nassif Building, PO 00000 Frm 00098 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 9399 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments. All submissions must include the Agency name and docket number for this Notice. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://dms.dot.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading under Regulatory Notices. To read background documents or comments received, go to http://dms.dot.gov or to Room PL–401 on the plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http:// dms.dot.gov at any time or Room PL– 401 on the plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The DMS 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: Anyone may search the electronic form of all comments received into any of our 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, etc.). You may review the DOT’s complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477; Apr. 11, 2000). This information is also available at http:// dms.dot.gov. Dr. Mary D. Gunnels, Chief, Physical Qualifications Division, (202) 366–4001, maggi.gunnels@dot.gov, FMCSA, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Room 8301, Washington, DC 20590–0001. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Background Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption for a 2year period if it finds ‘‘such exemption would likely achieve a level of safety E:\FR\FM\01MRN1.SGM 01MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 40 (Thursday, March 1, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Pages 9397-9399]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-3514]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2006-25246]


Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of final disposition.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to exempt 33 individuals from the 
vision requirement in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs). The exemptions will enable these individuals to operate 
commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce without meeting 
the prescribed vision standard. The Agency has concluded that granting 
these exemptions will provide a level of safety that is equivalent to, 
or greater than, the level of safety maintained without the exemptions 
for these CMV drivers.

DATES: The exemptions are effective March 1, 2007. The exemptions 
expire on March 2, 2009.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Mary D. Gunnels, Chief, Physical 
Qualifications Division, (202) 366-4001, maggi.gunnels@dot.gov, FMCSA, 
Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Room 8301, 
Washington, DC 20590-0001. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    You may see all the comments online through the Document Management 
System (DMS) at http://dmses.dot.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://dms.dot.gov and/or Room PL-401 on the 
plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., 
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://dms.dot.gov.

Background

    On January 3, 2007, FMCSA published a notice of receipt of 
exemption applications from certain individuals, and requested comments 
from the public (72 FR 180). That notice listed 33 applicants' case 
histories, but it incorrectly indicated there were 32. The 33 
individuals applied for exemptions from the vision requirement in 49 
CFR 391.41(b)(10), for drivers who operate CMVs in interstate commerce.
    Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption 
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 statute also allows the 
Agency to renew exemptions at the end of the 2-year period. 
Accordingly, FMCSA has evaluated the 33 applications on their merits 
and made a determination to grant exemptions to all of them. The 
comment period closed on February 2, 2007.

Vision and Driving Experience of the Applicants

    The vision requirement in the FMCSRs provides:
    A person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor 
vehicle 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 a 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 (49 CFR 391.41(b)(10)).
    FMCSA recognizes that some drivers do not meet the vision standard, 
but have adapted their driving to accommodate their vision limitation 
and demonstrated their ability to drive safely. The 33 exemption 
applicants listed in this notice are in this category. They are unable 
to meet the vision standard in one eye for various reasons, including 
amblyopia, macular scar, retinal detachment, corneal scarring, 
prosthesis, corneal opacity, optic atrophy, ocular histoplasmosis 
syndrome, retinal vein occlusion, cataract, and loss of vision due to 
trauma. In most cases, their eye conditions were not recently 
developed. All but ten of the applicants were either born with their 
vision impairments or have had them since childhood. The ten 
individuals who sustained their vision conditions as adults have had 
them for periods ranging from 4 to 25 years.
    Although each applicant has one eye which does not meet the vision 
standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), each has at least 20/40 corrected 
vision in the other eye, and in a doctor's opinion, has sufficient 
vision to perform all the tasks necessary to operate a CMV. Doctors' 
opinions are supported by the applicants' possession of valid 
commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) or non-CDLs to operate CMVs. Before 
issuing CDLs, States subject drivers to knowledge and skills tests 
designed to evaluate their qualifications to operate a CMV. All these 
applicants satisfied the testing standards for their State of 
residence. By meeting State licensing requirements, the applicants 
demonstrated their ability to operate a commercial vehicle, with their 
limited vision, to the satisfaction of the State.
    While possessing a valid CDL or non-CDL, these 33 drivers have been 
authorized to drive a CMV in intrastate commerce, even though their 
vision disqualified them from driving in interstate commerce. They have 
driven CMVs with their limited vision for careers ranging from 4 to 25 
years. In the past 3 years, five of the drivers have had convictions 
for traffic violations and two of them were involved in crashes.
    The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each 
applicant were stated and discussed in detail in the January 3, 2007 
Notice (72 FR 180).

Basis for Exemption Determination

    Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption 
from the vision standard in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) if the exemption is 
likely to achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would 
be achieved without the exemption. Without the exemption, applicants 
will continue to be restricted to intrastate driving. With the 
exemption, applicants can drive in interstate commerce. Thus, our 
analysis focuses on whether an equal or greater level of safety is 
likely to be achieved by permitting each of these drivers to drive

[[Page 9398]]

in interstate commerce as opposed to restricting him or her to driving 
in intrastate commerce.
    To evaluate the effect of these exemptions on safety, FMCSA 
considered not only the medical reports about the applicants' vision, 
but also their driving records and experience with the vision 
deficiency. To qualify for an exemption from the vision standard, FMCSA 
requires a person to present verifiable evidence that he/she has driven 
a commercial vehicle safely with the vision deficiency for 3 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-98-3637.
    We believe we can properly apply the principle to monocular 
drivers, because data from the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) 
former waiver study program clearly demonstrate 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 3 consecutive years 
of data, comparing the experiences of drivers in the first 2 years with 
their experiences in the final year.
    Applying principles from these studies to the past 3-year record of 
the 33 applicants, four of the applicants had traffic violations for 
speeding, one applicant failed to obey a traffic sign, and two of the 
applicants were involved in crashes. The applicants achieved this 
record of safety while driving with their vision impairment, 
demonstrating the likelihood that they have adapted their driving 
skills to accommodate their condition. As the applicants' ample driving 
histories with their vision deficiencies are good predictors of future 
performance, FMCSA concludes their ability to drive safely can be 
projected into the future.
    We believe the applicants' intrastate driving experience and 
history provide an adequate basis for predicting their ability to drive 
safely in interstate commerce. Intrastate driving, like interstate 
operations, involves substantial driving on highways on the interstate 
system and on other roads built to interstate standards. Moreover, 
driving in congested urban areas exposes the driver to more pedestrian 
and vehicular traffic than exists on interstate highways. Faster 
reaction to traffic and traffic signals is generally required because 
distances between them are more compact. These conditions tax visual 
capacity and driver response just as intensely as interstate driving 
conditions. The veteran drivers in this proceeding have operated CMVs 
safely under those conditions for at least 3 years, most for much 
longer. Their experience and driving records lead us to believe that 
each applicant is capable of operating in interstate commerce as safely 
as he/she has been performing in intrastate commerce. Consequently, 
FMCSA finds that exempting these applicants from the vision standard in 
49 CFR 391.41(b)(10) is likely to achieve a level of safety equal to 
that existing without the exemption. For this reason, the Agency is 
granting the exemptions for the 2-year period allowed by 49 U.S.C. 
31136(e) and 31315 to the 33 applicants listed in the notice of January 
3, 2007 (72 FR 180).
    We recognize that the vision of an applicant may change and affect 
his/her ability to operate a CMV as safely as in the past. As a 
condition of the exemption, therefore, FMCSA will impose requirements 
on the 33 individuals consistent with the grandfathering provisions 
applied to drivers who participated in the Agency's vision waiver 
program.
    Those requirements are found at 49 CFR 391.64(b) and include the 
following: (1) That each individual be physically examined 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, 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

    Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) expressed 
opposition to FMCSA's policy to grant exemptions from the FMCSRs, 
including the driver qualification standards. Specifically, Advocates: 
(1) Objects to the manner in which FMCSA presents driver information to 
the public and makes safety determinations; (2) objects to the Agency's 
reliance on conclusions drawn from the vision waiver program; (3) 
claims the Agency has misinterpreted statutory language on the granting 
of exemptions (49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315); and finally (4) suggests 
that a 1999 Supreme Court decision affects the legal validity of vision 
exemptions.
    The issues raised by Advocates were addressed at length in 64 FR 
51568 (September 23, 1999), 64 FR 66962 (November 30, 1999), 64 FR 
69586 (December 13, 1999), 65 FR 159 (January 3, 2000), 65 FR 57230 
(September 21, 2000), and 66 FR 13825 (March 7, 2001). We will not 
address these points again here, but refer interested parties to those 
earlier discussions.
    One individual opposes the granting of vision exemptions to vision 
impaired drivers with moving violations within a 3-year period. She 
believes that granting vision exemptions to such drivers makes the 
roads more dangerous. Another individual stated anonymously, in 
response to the first comment, that he/she is in support of granting

[[Page 9399]]

exemptions to individuals who have minimal moving violations and that 
being in the program promotes a driver to maintain a safe driving 
record.
    In regard to the two comments, the discussion under the heading, 
``Basis for Exemption Determination,'' explains in detail the 
evaluation methods the Agency utilizes prior to granting an exemption 
to ensure that the granting of an exemption is likely to achieve an 
equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved without 
the exemption. To evaluate the effect of these exemptions on safety, 
FMCSA considered not only the medical reports about the applicants' 
vision, but also their driving records and experience with the vision 
deficiency, and found that all 33 applicants met the Program's 
eligibility criteria. FMCSA will continue to monitor each applicant's 
driving safety record on a semi-annual basis to ensure continued 
compliance with the Program.
    Another anonymous individual believes that if a driver has a 
driving history with the vision deficiency and he/she has had no 
accidents, then the process should not take so long.
    The Agency has 180 days from the date a completed application is 
submitted to make a final determination whether to grant the exemption. 
FMCSA strives to expedite the processing of all applications received 
and is often successful in completing the process in less time. It is 
the Agency's responsibility to ensure that the granting of an exemption 
is likely to achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than 
would be achieved without the exemption.

Conclusion

    Based upon its evaluation of the 33 exemption applications, FMCSA 
exempts Kreis C. Baldridge, James L. Baynes, Daniel H. Bungartz, Thomas 
L. Carter, Orlando Colon, Donald D. Daniels, Jimmy W. Deadwyler, 
William E. Dolson, Michael A. Fouch, Paul R. Kerpsie, Gerald D. Larson, 
Carl A. Lohrbach, Donald R. McCracken, Sharon D. McDaniel, Larry E. 
McMillan, James E. Menz, William F. Nickel, Jeffrey L. Olson, John J. 
Payne, Chris H. Pedersen, Timmy J. Pottebaum, Jerald W. Rehnke, Donnie 
R. Riggs, Luis H. Sanchez, James A. Shepard, Timothy L. Shorey, Herbert 
W. Smith, Phillip L. Smith, Randall S. Surber, Roger A. Thein, Jr., 
Ernest W. Waff, Mikiel J. Wagner, and Joseph W. Wigley from the vision 
requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(10), subject to the requirements cited 
above (49 CFR 391.64(b)).
    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, each exemption 
will be valid for 2 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 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.

    Issued on: February 23, 2007.
Larry W. Minor,
Office Director, Bus and Truck Standards and Operations.
[FR Doc. E7-3514 Filed 2-28-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P