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FMCSA Considers Exemptions for Impaired Drivers and Moving Trucks

by Jana Ritter - Published: 9/08/2014

News about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) usually involves more rules to tighten the reigns on commercial truck drivers. But today’s reports are quite the opposite in fact. Not only is the FMCSA exempting partially blind truck drivers from rules prohibiting them to operate commercial vehicles, they’re also considering similar exemptions for 12 truck drivers who suffer from seizures AND considering a request from the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) to exempt drivers at 3,700 moving companies from the 14-hour HOS regulations.

FMCSA Loosening Restrictions

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The agency made a formal announcement today that they will allow 52 truck drivers who are partially blind to operate a commercial motor vehicle, despite rules that would otherwise prevent them from doing so. The FMCSA determined that although these drivers have poor or no vision in one eye, they can still see clearly through the other eye - which is apparently enough to deem them safe behind the wheel. This is actually the second time in the last two weeks that the FMCSA has bent the rules for visually impaired drivers. On August 28th, they had also given the same exemptions to 14 other drivers saying, “…they are unable to meet the vision requirement in one eye for various reasons. The exemptions will enable these individuals to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce without meeting the prescribed vision requirement in one eye."

Perhaps even more surprising to some, is that the FMCSA also announced today that they’re now considering allowing 12 truck drivers with a history of seizures to get behind the wheel as well. Despite the federal rules that have been preventing anyone diagnosed with epilepsy from operating a commercial vehicle, the FMCSA is considering exemptions for those who suffer from epilepsy but are taking anti-seizure medication.

Today the FMCSA’s also issued their response to the AMSA’s request to exempt moving companies from the current 14-hour HOS rule. The AMSA’s request indicated that their members operate different from most freight hauling companies because their schedules are a lot less predictable and much of their 14-hour window is not spent driving. The AMSA suggested that their drivers would only apply the exemption when delays in the job make it difficult for them to move trucks from a customer’s residence to a safe place for overnight parking. The AMSA makes the valid point that such an exemption is a better alternative than the issues raised with cargo security and hazards that come with leaving trucks sitting on residential streets.

What do you think about any or all of these exemptions?