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Arnold & Itkin LLP Truck Accident Blog2021FebruaryFMCSA Might Lift Vision Exemptions for New Drivers

FMCSA Might Lift Vision Exemptions for New Drivers

According to reports, transportation officials are considering amending rules that prevent some people with vision impairments from becoming commercial drivers. Currently, truckers with impaired vision in one of their eyes are not allowed to operate 18-wheelers across state lines.

What Vision Rules Might Change for Truckers

The Department of Transportation announced this potential change in early January. In its notice, the agency revealed that it was considering replacing standards that it deems as unfairly prevents drivers with correctable vision impairments from getting behind the wheel for interstate travel.

The FMCSA said this in the announcement:

“It is well recognized in the literature that individuals with vision loss in one eye can and do develop compensatory viewing behavior to mitigate the vision loss. Therefore, if an individual meets the proposed vision standard, the agency expects there will be no adverse impact on safety due to the individual’s vision. That is, once an individual’s vision is stable and the individual has adapted to and compensated for the change in vision, the loss in vision is not likely to play a significant role in whether the individual can drive a CMV safely.”

Currently, policies require potential commercial drivers to be behind the wheel with their impairment for three years within one state before getting an exemption for interstate travel. The new rules would allow aspiring truckers to obtain an exemption with a road test conducted by their employer.

The new rules would also require drivers to:

  • Have distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 in the better eye, with or without corrective lenses, and field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian.
  • Be able to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber.
  • Have vision issues that aren’t expected to quickly worsen.
  • Have had sufficient time to adapt to and compensate for the change in vision.

If these new policies are adopted, about 2,500 drivers will no longer require vision exemptions.

Should FMCSA Vision Standards be Altered?

Supporters of these changes argue that the rule will help drivers find new opportunities with interstate driving. However, opponents of these changes argue that they’re fast-tracking the presence of potentially dangerous drivers between states. They argue that the rule changes are merely a way for the FMCSA to save money. The agency predicts that it can save approximately $1.6 million by dismantling the federal vision program.

Opponents of this change also argue that it provides too much room for abuse by operators. They're worried that some truck operators will use the reduced regulations to hire drivers that shouldn't be allowed to get behind the wheel of a semi-truck.

If you've been injured because of a negligent truck driver, call Arnold & Itkin LLP. Our truck accident lawyers are ready to listen to what happened at (888) 490-0442.

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