FMCSA Abandons Exemption Process For Drivers With Diabetes

“This final action delivers economic savings to affected drivers and our agency, and streamlines processes by eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens and redundancy.” – FMCSA Administrator, Ray Martinez

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a sweeping decision today that will remove of a significant financial and administrative burden for drivers living with diabetes. The agency, in a released statement, issued a final rule that will allow certificated medical examiners to decide whether truck drivers with stable diabetes are qualified to drive. This action on the part of the agency eliminates a requirement that the drivers seek an exemption before being allowed to get drive. Previously, drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus were not allowed to operate commercial vehicles in interstate commerce unless they obtained an exemption from FMCSA. Many truckers and trucking companies have expressed frustration with the exemption process which, in some cases, can take up to 6 months to sort through the red tape.

This final rule will allow medical examiners to issue a driver managing diabetes a one-year medical certification. In order for the driver to receive such a certification the treating clinician — the health care professional who manages, and prescribes insulin for, the treatment of the individual’s diabetes — must provide an assessment form to the certified medical examiner verifying that the individual maintains proper control of his condition. The certified medical examiner is then then makes a determination if the driver meets FMCSA’s physical qualification standards to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.

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“This final action delivers economic savings to affected drivers and our agency, and streamlines processes by eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens and redundancy,” FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez said in a statement. “It’s a win-win for all parties involved.” Indeed, FMCSA own estimates show that eliminating the exemption process will save the nearly 5,000 individuals with diabetes that currently have exemptions more than $5 million per year compared to what they would endure under the exemption program.

The financial savings don’t end there according to the agency. The final rule also will save new exemption applicants and their associated motor carriers approximately $215,000 annually when both wait times and compliance costs are taken into account, FMCSA said. FMCSA also says it will save more than $1 million per year over the next three years alone just in costs associated with administering the diabetes exemption program.

What do you think? Is this a smart decision for FMCSA? Do you think this decision will allow unsafe drivers behind the wheel? Sound off in our comments section below. Remember, you must be logged in to comment.

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