The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently proposed a new rule that would alter current health standards for drivers of commercial motor vehicles. The rule would impact how and whether insulin-dependent diabetics can drive in interstate commerce. Under the agency’s current rule, drivers with insulin-dependent diabetes are not allowed to drive commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. But even the current rule allows for exceptions. Every year the agency approves applications for drivers with insulin-dependent diabetes, including 78 this year. Those exemptions must be renewed by a driver every two years.
The proposed rule is not terribly controversial as certain states already allow insulin-dependent diabetics to drive commercial vehicles within their state. And since the agency is already making exceptions, a new rule would streamline the process and set a standard for who can drive in interstate commerce and who can’t.
What the Rule Would Do
Under the terms of the proposed rule, commercial motor vehicle drivers with insulin-dependent diabetes would be allowed to drive in interstate commerce under certain circumstances. To qualify, drivers would need to:
- Have control over the disease – defined as well-controlled and stable.
- Be examined at least annually by a medical examiner listed in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
- Receive a medical examiner’s certificate, certifying that the disease is under control and stable.
- Meet with and be examined by a treating clinician to ensure that the disease is stable and there are no progressive conditions related to the disease.
This process would make it easier for truck drivers operating under the current exemption system. The agency feels like this new process would help drivers to be able to earn a living without the added expense and hassle of getting and maintaining an exception from the agency.
Rulemaking in General
This proposed rule gives us a chance to go over the rulemaking process in general. If you go to the proposed rule you will see certain sections that must be there. For example, most proposed rules must contain a section on how the public can comment on the proposed rule. This allows industry leaders, drivers, and others to comment on what impact the rule will have on their lives. In some instances the agency may alter a rule, or eliminate it altogether based on the public’s reaction.
There are other key sections to any proposed rule. In most cases the agency must provide in writing the legal basis for the rulemaking. An agency can’t just pass rules because they feel like it. They must have authority from some statute passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. This particular rule is being justified by the agency under 49 U.S.C. 31136(a) and 31502(b). Both laws authorize the agency to make and enforce rules dealing with the trucking industry. There are other, important parts that a rule must show during the ruling making process. The agency must show what costs the rule will incur, the reasons for the rule, and the background.
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