FMCSA to Issue Exemptions to Some Diabetic Truck, Bus Drivers Using Insulin
September 3, 2003
The U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced that it will exempt certain insulin-treated diabetic truck and bus drivers from the diabetes prohibitions in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The new program for these exemptions will apply to drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) in interstate commerce. The FMCSA is not amending its diabetes standard.
"Our new program responds to the Bush administration's continuing commitment to safety as its highest transportation priority," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. "It is a creative approach based on data from a panel of experts that will enable an additional group of skilled professionals to help keep freight moving in America while we keep a sharp eye on safety."
The FMCSA will accept applications for diabetic exemptions beginning Sept. 22. The maximum exemption period is two years, and the agency may renew exemptions at the end of the two-year period, or after an exemption period expires. Under federal law, the agency may grant an exemption only if it is likely to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than the level that would be achieved without the exemption.
"FMCSA believes that thorough screening of exemption applicants and periodic monitoring of their safety performance is the most practical way to ensure safety on the nation's highways," FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg said.
FMCSA will leave open the diabetes exemption docket for new information and data on alternatives to the specific exemption conditions announced today. FMCSA will continue to evaluate the program as it collects additional information about insulin-treated diabetic drivers and in the future may modify the program accordingly.
Before granting an individual's exemption, the FMCSA must publish a notice in the Federal Register, identify who will receive the exemption and the provisions from which they will be exempt, the effective period for exemption, and the terms and conditions of the exemption. The agency will evaluate comments received before making a final decision that also will be published in the Federal Register. Likewise, denied exemption requests will appear in the Federal Register with the reasons for rejection.
An immediate revocation of exemption will occur if an individual fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the exemption; the exemption has resulted in a lower level of safety than before the granting of the exemption; or continuation of the exemption becomes inconsistent with the goals and objectives of the regulations.
The FMCSA diabetes exemption process has three components. The first is a screening component to identify qualified applicants. This process examines the applicant's experience and safety in operating CMVs with insulin-treated diabetes, the history of hypoglycemia, and the results of examinations by medical specialists. One important requirement in the screening process will be that applicants have three years of safe CMV driving experience while using insulin. The second component provides guidelines for managing diabetes while operating a CMV, including supplies to be used and the protocol for monitoring and maintaining appropriate blood glucose levels. The last component specifies the FMCSA's process for monitoring insulin-treated commercial drivers. It addresses the required medical examinations and the schedule for their submission. It indicates how glucose measures should be taken and reviewed, and how episodes of severe hypoglycemia and accidents should be reported.
The FMCSA's decision to establish an exemption process is based on a number of factors including studies of the effects of insulin-treated diabetes on driver performance, a review of USDOT and state exemption programs, and substantial medical input from a panel of endocrinologists.
Those applying for an exemption must send a request and documentation by letter to the FMCSA Diabetes Exemption Program, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590. The FMCSA will issue a final decision within 180 days of receiving a completed application, and during that time will assess the potential safety performance of each applicant.
To read background documents or comments received on this issue, go to http://dms.dot.gov and search for docket no. FMCSA-2001-9800. This new program also is described in today's Federal Register.
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