Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision, 54888-54890 [E8-22226]

Download as PDF 54888 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 185 / Tuesday, September 23, 2008 / Notices jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES improvement to ensure it fully complies with MOU section 8.2.6. Specifically, the first self-assessment conducted by Caltrans under the Pilot Program did not correlate each identified issue needing improvement to the corrective action(s) taken to address each issue. Findings—Deficient (D1) QA/QC Process—Caltrans requires each environmental document to be reviewed according to the policy memo titled ‘‘Environmental Document Quality Control Program under the NEPA Pilot Program (July 2, 2007).’’ Several deficiencies exist with the quality control process detailed in the aforementioned policy memo, SER Chapter 38, and as required by MOU section 8.2.5. These deficiencies are: a. Completion of Quality Control Certification Forms. The required Internal and External Certification forms used in the environmental document review process were not consistently completed prior to the approval of each environmental document. The QC policy memo requires that ‘‘all staff personnel who have served as a reviewer on a project document shall sign a Quality Control Certification Form at the conclusion of their review. The reviewer’s signature certifies that the document meets professional standards and Federal and State requirements in the reviewer’s area of expertise, and is consistent with the SER and annotated outlines.’’ Seven of 11 documents examined identified where the signatory approved the environmental document prior to the completion of the document review process (i.e., before the Quality Control Certification Form was completed). b. Inconsistent Completion of the Environmental Document Preparation and Review Tool Checklist and the Resource/Technical Specialist Review Certification on the Internal and External Quality Control Certification Forms. For EAs and EISs, the specific resource topics identified in the Environmental Document Preparation and Review Tool Checklist were not always consistent with the resource topics indicated on the Resource/ Technical Specialist Review Certification forms for the same document. c. The Peer Reviewer for 3 of 11 environmental documents examined under the audit did not meet the requirement in SER Chapter 38 to be ‘‘a staff member who has not participated in, supervised or technically reviewed the project.’’ (D2) Pilot Program Self-Assessment— Caltrans’ self-assessment process failed to fully comply with MOU section 8.2.6 VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:54 Sep 22, 2008 Jkt 214001 which requires the identification of ‘‘any areas needing improvement.’’ The Caltrans self-assessment (which reviewed the completion of the Quality Control Certification forms) did not identify that in some cases the peer reviewer function was not performed according to SER Chapter 38 policy. The policy requires an independent review by environmental staff not otherwise involved in the project. The self assessment did not identify that on 3 of 11 QA/QC certification forms (reviewed under this audit and the self assessment) used on EA and EIS projects, the person signing as the peer reviewer also signed as a technical expert. (D3) Records Management—The project filing system in place at District 4 did not meet the Caltrans Uniform Filing System requirements as specified in the ‘‘Record Keeping and Retention’’ section of the Caltrans Application. This determination was made by the Audit Team through interviews with district personnel during the on-site audit. The Uniform Filing System is the records management method chosen by Caltrans to comply with the records retention requirements in MOU section 8.3. This filing system was not in use and was not implemented as described in the Application and SER Chapter 38. (D4) Statement Regarding Assumption of Responsibility—MOU section 3.2.5 requires language regarding Caltrans’ assumption of responsibility under 23 U.S.C. 327 be included on the cover page of each environmental document for all assumed Pilot Program projects. The cover pages for two Draft EIS documents and one EA reviewed during the audit did not include this required statement. Response to Comments and Finalization of Report Only one comment was received by FHWA during the 60-day comment period for the draft audit report. This comment was submitted by the Caltrans on July 31, 2008. Caltrans wished to thank FHWA for the opportunity to participate in the pilot program, an ‘‘opportunity to test a new model for implementing the Secretary of transportation’s environmental responsibilities.’’ Caltrans also stated that their relationship with FHWA continues to be ‘‘strong and healthy.’’ Their comment also stated that they were pleased with the FHWA audit opinion. They take the pilot program responsibilities and commitments seriously and appreciate FHWA’s audit input and findings as they assist Caltrans in continuous improvement. PO 00000 Frm 00108 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The FHWA feels that there was no need to revise the draft audit report findings to be responsive to this comment, with the exception of making the ‘‘Background’’ section current and the addition of this section. [FR Doc. E8–22131 Filed 9–22–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–22–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [Docket No. FMCSA–2008–0231] 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 23 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 September 23, 2008. The exemptions expire on September 23, 2010. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Mary D. Gunnels, Director, Medical Programs, (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 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 Federal Document Management System (FDMS) at https:// www.regulations.gov. Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments, go to https:// 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., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The FDMS is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. If you want E:\FR\FM\23SEN1.SGM 23SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 185 / Tuesday, September 23, 2008 / Notices acknowledgment that we received your comments, please include a selfaddressed, 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 19476). This information is also available at https://Docketsinfo.dot.gov. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Background On August 12, 2008, FMCSA published a notice of receipt of exemption applications from certain individuals, and requested comments from the public (73 FR 46973). That notice listed 23 applicants’ case histories. The 23 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 23 applications on their merits and made a determination to grant exemptions to all of them. The comment period closed on September 11, 2008. 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 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 (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 VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:54 Sep 22, 2008 Jkt 214001 and demonstrated their ability to drive safely. The 23 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, prosthesis, aphakia, macular scar, corneal scarring, hyperopia, exotropia, and loss of vision due to trauma. In most cases, their eye conditions were not recently developed. All but six of the applicants were either born with their vision impairments or have had them since childhood. The six individuals who sustained their vision conditions as adults have had them for periods ranging from 4 to 15 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 23 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 43 years. In the past 3 years, two of the drivers had convictions for traffic violations and four of them were involved in crashes. The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each applicant were stated and discussed in detail in the August 12, 2008 notice (73 FR 46973). 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 PO 00000 Frm 00109 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 54889 permitting each of these drivers to drive 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 the past 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 E:\FR\FM\23SEN1.SGM 23SEN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES 54890 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 185 / Tuesday, September 23, 2008 / Notices 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 23 applicants, two of the applicants had a traffic violation for speeding, one of the applicants had a traffic violation for failure unsafe lane changes, one of the applicants had a traffic violation for following another vehicle too closely, and four 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 67 of the 23 applicants listed in the notice of August 12, 2008 (73 FR 46973). VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:54 Sep 22, 2008 Jkt 214001 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 23 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 FMCSA received one comment in this proceeding. The comment was considered and discussed below. 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. PO 00000 Frm 00110 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Conclusion Based upon its evaluation of the 23 exemption applications, FMCSA exempts, William C. Ball, Terrence L. Benning, Rickie L. Boone, Robert S. Bowen, Dennis R. Buszkiewicz, Larry T. Byrley, Robert J. Clarke, Eldon D. Cochran, Alfred A. Constantino, James R. Corley, Larry D. Curry, Brian F. Denning, Michael W. Dillard, Kelly M. Greene, Sammy K. Hines, John H. Holmberg, Gary R. Lomen, Leonardo Lopez, Jr., Jeffrey F. Meier, James G. Mitchell, Billy R. Pierce, James A. Rapp, and Thomas P. Shank 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: September 17, 2008. Larry W. Minor, Associate Administrator for Policy and Program Development. [FR Doc. E8–22226 Filed 9–22–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–EX–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Transit Administration Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement on the Proposed Southwest Transitway Project in Hennepin, Minnesota AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration, DOT. Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the Proposed Southwest Transitway Project in Hennepin County, Minnesota. ACTION: SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) are planning to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Southwest Transitway Project, a 14-mile corridor of transportation improvements that links Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, and Minneapolis neighborhoods and E:\FR\FM\23SEN1.SGM 23SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 185 (Tuesday, September 23, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 54888-54890]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-22226]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2008-0231]


Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Vision

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

ACTION: Notice of final disposition.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to exempt 23 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 September 23, 2008. The exemptions 
expire on September 23, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Mary D. Gunnels, Director, Medical 
Programs, (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 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 Federal Document 
Management System (FDMS) at https://www.regulations.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments, go to https://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., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. The FDMS is available 24 hours each day, 365 
days each year. If you want

[[Page 54889]]

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 19476). This information is 
also available at https://Docketsinfo.dot.gov.

Background

    On August 12, 2008, FMCSA published a notice of receipt of 
exemption applications from certain individuals, and requested comments 
from the public (73 FR 46973). That notice listed 23 applicants' case 
histories. The 23 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 23 applications on their merits 
and made a determination to grant exemptions to all of them. The 
comment period closed on September 11, 2008.

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 at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both 
eyes with or without corrective lenses, field of vision of at least 
70[deg] 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 23 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, prosthesis, aphakia, macular 
scar, corneal scarring, hyperopia, exotropia, and loss of vision due to 
trauma. In most cases, their eye conditions were not recently 
developed. All but six of the applicants were either born with their 
vision impairments or have had them since childhood. The six 
individuals who sustained their vision conditions as adults have had 
them for periods ranging from 4 to 15 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 23 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 43 
years. In the past 3 years, two of the drivers had convictions for 
traffic violations and four of them were involved in crashes.
    The qualifications, experience, and medical condition of each 
applicant were stated and discussed in detail in the August 12, 2008 
notice (73 FR 46973).

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 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 the past 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

[[Page 54890]]

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 23 applicants, two of the applicants had a traffic violation for 
speeding, one of the applicants had a traffic violation for failure 
unsafe lane changes, one of the applicants had a traffic violation for 
following another vehicle too closely, and four 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 67 of the 23 applicants listed in the notice of 
August 12, 2008 (73 FR 46973).
    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 23 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

    FMCSA received one comment in this proceeding. The comment was 
considered and discussed below.
    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.

Conclusion

    Based upon its evaluation of the 23 exemption applications, FMCSA 
exempts, William C. Ball, Terrence L. Benning, Rickie L. Boone, Robert 
S. Bowen, Dennis R. Buszkiewicz, Larry T. Byrley, Robert J. Clarke, 
Eldon D. Cochran, Alfred A. Constantino, James R. Corley, Larry D. 
Curry, Brian F. Denning, Michael W. Dillard, Kelly M. Greene, Sammy K. 
Hines, John H. Holmberg, Gary R. Lomen, Leonardo Lopez, Jr., Jeffrey F. 
Meier, James G. Mitchell, Billy R. Pierce, James A. Rapp, and Thomas P. 
Shank 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: September 17, 2008.
Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy and Program Development.
[FR Doc. E8-22226 Filed 9-22-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P