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Questions & answers

Donna Ryun
information services

QuestionWhat are the restrictions for getting or keeping a CDL if a person has diabetes?

Answer: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations state as follows: Part 391.41 (b) A person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if that person (3) has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus currently requiring insulin for control.

According to the FMCSRs: “There is no provision in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for an exemption from the minimum physical requirement with respect to the insulin-using diabetic. Diabetes mellitus is a disease which, on occasion, can result in a loss of consciousness or orientation in time and space. Individuals who require insulin for control have conditions which can get out of control by the use of too much or too little insulin, or food intake not consistent with the insulin dosage. Incapacitation may occur from symptoms of hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic reactions (drowsiness, semiconsciousness, diabetic coma or insulin shock). The administration of insulin is, within itself, a complicated process requiring insulin, syringe, needle, alcohol sponge and a sterile technique. Factors related to long-haul commercial motor vehicle operations, such as fatigue, lack of sleep, poor diet, emotional conditions, stress and concomitant illness, compound the diabetic problem. Therefore, the FHWA has consistently held that a diabetic who uses insulin for control does not meet the minimum physical requirements of the FMCSRs.”

According to a spokesperson at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a provision for an exemption from the physical requirement for insulin-using diabetics is being considered, although a decision is not expected until late summer. Currently, no exemption applications are being accepted.

If diabetes is controlled by the use of oral medications and/or diet and exercise, the condition will not disqualify you from obtaining or holding a CDL as long as you obtain regular medical exams.

The federal government allows individual states to provide waivers to drivers who use insulin that would permit them to drive intrastate. Since each state has its own criteria for granting waivers (some have no waiver provisions), insulin-dependent diabetics should check with their state Department of Motor Vehicles for information.

QuestionWhat is the difference between a contract carrier and a common carrier? A broker I recently contacted told me they could only use contract carriers, and I’d like to know the reasons behind this.

Answer: Historically, a common carrier was a company that provided for-hire truck transportation to the general public. The services offered and the prices charged were published in a public tariff, and these were the only prices the common carrier could charge. A contract carrier was a company that provided for-hire truck transportation to specific, individual shippers based upon private contracts between the carrier and each shipper, stipulating the services offered and the prices charged to each.

Effective Jan. 1, 1996, The ICC Termination Act of 1995 no longer distinguishes between common or contract carriers, yet it specifically authorizes the FMCSA to continue registering applicants as either common or contract carriers.

Currently, the main difference between the two types is that common carriers must file proof of cargo insurance, while contract carriers are not required to do so. (Note: This is not to say contract carriers are exempt from maintaining cargo insurance — they just don’t have to file it.) In addition, common carriers are exempt in some states from paying sales taxes on equipment purchases.

Many brokers won’t load a common carrier, preferring contract carriers because they like to know up front there will be no variables to change their percentage. Because the rate confirmation is considered a legal contract, you shouldn’t be required to sign a separate broker/carrier agreement, and you should be wary of doing so, according to OOIDA’s Business Services representatives.

When dealing with brokers, be careful to bid loads high enough to make a profit, and by all means, check them out thoroughly before you haul for them. If you have Internet access, you can go to or call the OOIDA Business Services department to assist with specific broker information.

Question: I own a truck that I lease to a motor carrier. The motor carrier hires the drivers for my truck. What are my insurance responsibilities and what are the motor carrier’s?

Answer: The Federal Leasing Regulations state it is the legal obligation of the authorized carrier to maintain insurance coverage for the protection of the public pursuant to FHWA regulations under 49 U.S.C. 13906. Cargo coverage is the motor carrier’s responsibility as well.

Since the motor carrier hires the drivers for your truck, it is responsible for any coverage (such as worker’s compensation or medical insurance) related to its employees.

Always check your lease to make sure these responsibilities are not transferred to you via hold-harmless clauses hidden within the wording.

Your lease also should specify any other insurance coverage the carrier requires you to have, such as bobtail, unladen liability or non-trucking liability. If the carrier deducts premiums for any insurance from your settlement checks, the amount must be specified within the contract and verification documentation provided.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are required to buy anything (including insurance) from your carrier, but if you decide to purchase insurance through your motor carrier, you have a right to a copy of each policy and should definitely see that you get one for your protection.

If you have a loan on your truck, the lending institution will require you to maintain physical damage coverage in order to protect its financial interest in the equipment. Other insurance coverages you may want to consider are gap, passenger accident and downtime; however, the law does not require them. Speak with an OOIDA truck insurance agent for details or specific questions about any of these coverages.

If you have questions you’d like answered, please e-mail them to or send them to me at PO Box 1000, Grain Valley, MO 64029. Although we won’t be able to publish all questions in Land Line, you will receive a response.