Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Medical Review Board approved a proposal to eliminate the exemption process for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers with monocular vision.
When finalized, the amendment would permit an individual who cannot meet either the current distant visual acuity or field of vision standard or both, in one eye to be physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce under specified conditions.
Currently, a driver who does not have a correctable 20/40 vision in both their left and right eyes, by wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses, would be disqualified from operating a CMV in interstate commerce unless they received a vision exemption.
Specific automatic medically disqualified conditions can be found under 49 CFR Part 391.41.
The current standard requires drivers to have:
- A distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses.
- A distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without
- A field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal Meridian in each eye.
- The ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red,
green, and amber.
FMCSA vision exemption program
The current FMCSA vision exemptionprogram is for monocular vision.
The waiver currently in place has been granting drivers with vision in only one eye since 1998 and is estimated that over 2,500 interstate drivers hold an FMCSA vision exemption.
The vision exemption is issued for a maximum of 2 years and is renewable. Provisions of the vision exemption include an annual medical exam and an eye exam by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.
At the annual recertification exam, the driver should present the current vision exemption and a copy of the specialist’s eye exam report. The medical examiner will certify the qualified driver, usually for one year, and issue a medical exam certificate with the vision exemption marked on the form.
The driver is responsible to carry both the vision exemption and the medical exam certificate while driving and keeping both current and up to date.
What is changing with the FMCSA vision exemption program?
An alternative vision standard would involve a two-step process for physical qualification.
- A prospective driver seeking physical qualification would obtain a vision evaluation from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. The findings would provide specific medical information and opinions on a proposed Vision Evaluation Report.
- A medical examiner would perform an examination and determine whether the individual meets the proposed vision standard along with FMCSA’s physical qualification standards. If the medical examiner determines that the individual meets the physical qualification standards, the medical examiner could issue a Medical Examiner’s Certificate for a maximum of 12 months.
With some limited exceptions, individuals initially physically qualified under the alternative standard would be required to complete a road test by a prospective employer motor carrier before operating a CMV in interstate commerce.
The approved proposal would grandfather provision for drivers currently operating under the vision waiver study program.
Why choose CNS for my DOT physical?
CNS offers DOT physical exams on-site at our Lititz, PA location with our Certified Medical Examiner (CME). For more flexibility, we offer mobile DOT physicals to companies that qualify. Find out if your company qualifies now.
We are efficient in scheduling appointments and respect your time, preventing you from having long wait times in crowded waiting rooms. We also have competitive rates, and we understand your budget and operating costs as a driver and/or company.
The CNS Occupational Medicine staff is experienced and friendly, and our CMEs are professionals that will effectively evaluate your status.