Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Grants Health Exceptions

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

It was recently reported that the FMCSA will exempt over 90 truck drivers from regulations that would otherwise keep them off the roads. The exemptions were fairly routine, and were actually an extension of current exemptions to the drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus. This is just one of the medical conditions that can keep a driver off the road.

Before a driver can qualify for a commercial driver’s license and transport goods from state to state, they must have the physical ability to do so. This physical ability is determined by a doctor, and there are certain standards that must be met before a trucker is passed. In most cases a trucker of reasonable health will not have a problem, but there are cases where a license is denied.

Regulations on Driver Health

The rules regulating whether a driver qualifies for service can be found in 49 CFR 391.41. The laundry list of physical qualifications a driver must have is long, and not having one of them can disqualify a driver from being on the road. Those qualifications include:

  • No loss of foot, leg, hand, or arm;
  • Having the ability to grasp firmly with both hands;
  • Being free from diabetes mellitus requiring insulin control;
  • No current cardiovascular disease that is likely to interfere with the operation of a commercial motor vehicle;
  • No vision conditions likely to interfere with the operation of a commercial motor vehicle;
  • No hearing deficiencies; and
  • No alcoholism.

These provide just an example of the exhaustive list of health problems a driver must not have in order to be qualified to drive. But having one or more of these issues is not the end of the road for a driver, as they can apply for an exception.

Medical Exceptions

If a driver has a condition or suffers from a disease listed in the regulations disqualifying them from work as a truck driver, they can apply for an exception with the FMCSA. That process is found in 49 CFR 391.43. Typically the exception process involves going to a doctor and getting an evaluation of the flagged condition. If the doctor can approve the driver for commercial motor vehicle service, then that report is submitted to the FMCSA for evaluation.

As was seen in this story, those exceptions are granted. And if you have members of your fleet who are essential to the operation, it is an important process to know about. But it is important to understand that just because a person has a doctor’s evaluation and submits it to the FMCSA that is not a guarantee that the exception will be granted. Understanding how the FMCSA operates is key to the smooth operation of any trucking company.

At Anderson and Yamada we have decades of experience dealing with the FMCSA and other areas of transportation law. Whether you need help with federal, state, or local regulations, we can help you. We also represent companies sued under such federal laws as the Carmack Amendment. If you are a trucking company in the need of legal counsel, contact us today.