Ask The OMC

In this LL feature, we put the questions to the Office of Motor Carriers for interpretation.  Answers are provided by the OMC, a truck safety component of the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, DC.

Q:  What is the status of the vision waiver program?

A: The vision waiver study program ended and our authority to issue vision waivers under this program expired on March 31, 1996.

Q:  If an over-the-road trucker needed or wanted to apply for a vision waiver, how would he/she go about making a request?

A:  Any changes to the vision standard must be consistent with the Federal Highway Administrations primary goal to make the nation's roads safer for all motorists by reducing large-truck involvement in highway crashes.  Although we are aware that certain individuals with less than 20/40 visual acuity in each eye may operate a commercial vehicle safely, the FHWA's responsibility is to develop a vision standard that can be applied fairly and uniformly to a multitude of interstate drivers, given very limited resources.  The decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Rauenhorst v. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration does not alter this view.

The FHWA has convened a panel of medical professionals to review the current vision requirements and make recommendations for possible changes to the present vision standard.   After the medical panel report has been completed, the FHWA will determine whether the findings support the development of performance-based alternatives to the current standard.

The FHWA has established a mailing list and will notify individuals of any future developments.  To have your name placed on the mailing list, contact Mr. Paul Brennan, Director, Office of Motor Carrier Research and Standards, 400 Seventh Street, S. W. Washington, DC 20590. LL   

Editor's note: The Rauenhorst case involved a driver who sued FHWA in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and won an opportunity to request a waiver after the program was discontinued.  He did so and recently was approved to drive with a vision waiver.  His case established the legal rights of drivers in the Eighth District (AR, MO, IA, MN, NE, ND, SD) to be considered.