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Drivers with vision loss could face tougher standards from FMCSA

by Punjabi Trucking
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A five-member panel of physicians has recommended to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that the agency needs stricter standards regarding commercial truck drivers who have vision loss.

The FMCSA Medical Review Board (MRB) recommends the current field-of-vision requirement for drivers with vision loss in one eye be changed from 70 degrees to 120 degrees. This proposed new standard was in a rulemaking proposal that opened for public comment earlier this year. 

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Those drivers who meet the new standard are now considered qualified to drive without having to apply for an exemption from the FMCSA. The standard also requires drivers to have at least stable 20/40 vision in their better eye and be able to recognize traffic signal colors as well as devices showing red, green, and amber. 

The rulemaking proposal garnered 69 comments. One from the health care company Concentra recommended the original field-of-vision standard be tightened.

The Concentra comment said, “The field of vision issue needs to be addressed. FMCSA has long considered 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian in each eye to be sufficient. However, the 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 FMCSA has opened a new 30-day comment period for public response to the proposed new standard.

Drivers who cannot meet the field of vision standard or the distant-visual-acuity (a measurement of a driver’s degree of vision loss) will not be able to drive commercial trucks in interstate commerce without receiving an exemption from the FMCSA.

Those who qualify under the proposed alternate vision standard would then need to complete a road test before driving. Drivers would be waived from the road test requirement if they meet any of the following requirements: three years of intrastate or excepted interstate CMV driving experience with the vision deficiency, a valid federal vision exemption, or a medical certification.

“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 said.

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