FMCSA pitches some changes to vision standards

January 12, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing a rule that would update its vision standards.

The agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking that published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, Jan. 12, would allow individuals who can’t meet the current distant visual acuity or field of vision standards in one eye to be deemed physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

“The proposed rule provides an alternative vision standard for individuals who cannot meet either the current FMCSA distant visual acuity or field of vision standard, or both, in one eye,” the notice stated. “If adopted. (the proposal) would replace the current vision exemption program as a basis for determining the physical qualification of such individuals to operate a commercial motor vehicle. The proposed action would ensure that these individuals are physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely.”

FMCSA said the proposed vision standard is based on recommendations from the agency’s Medical Review Board.

The new rule would require drivers to complete a road test before being allowed on the road unless they have three years of intrastate or other qualifying driving experience with the vision deficiency.

To be qualified, the individual must have at least 20/40 vision in the other eye with or without corrective lenses and a field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian. The individual also must be able to recognize the colors of traffic signals, have a stable vision deficiency, and have had sufficient time to adapt to and compensate for the change in vision.

“It is well recognized … that individuals with vision loss in one eye can and do develop compensatory viewing behavior to mitigate the vision loss,” the notice stated. “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.”

Comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking will be accepted through March 15. To submit comments, go here. LL

More FMCSA news can be found here.

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Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.