New diabetes standard for commercial drivers in the works

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 5/1/2015

A proposed rule that is set to hit the Federal Register in the coming days would allow a personal physician – not the government – to decide if a driver that treats diabetes with insulin is safe to operate a commercial vehicle. The change could benefit drivers who currently face long delays and incur costs while waiting on a federal exemption.

Currently, a driver or applicant who has diabetes must apply to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to obtain an exemption to the regulation that otherwise prohibits driving a truck with the condition.

According to a notice of proposed rulemaking, FMCSA would allow an applicant’s treating clinician, in conjunction with the driver’s certified medical examiner, to make the determination as long as certain requirements are met.

“A driver with stable, well-controlled (insulin-treated diabetes mellitus) who meets the requirements of the proposed rule could obtain a (medical card) and continue to earn income operating CMVs in interstate commerce without the additional expense and delay of applying for an exemption,” FMCSA stated in the proposed rule.

According to the proposal, a driver that already uses insulin or begins using insulin must undergo an annual or more frequent evaluation by a treating clinician prior to a DOT medical exam.

The driver must keep and submit blood glucose records to the treating clinician. A DOT-certified medical examiner would then obtain written notification from the treating clinician and record whether the driver had any severe hypoglycemic reactions or demonstrated hypoglycemic unawareness and whether the driver managed the condition properly.

The medical examiner would then certify whether a driver was free of complications that would impair safe operation, and could issue a medical card lasting up to one year.

OOIDA says the proposal makes sense.

“Just because you have diabetes does not mean you’re unsafe. Drivers would still be required to be under the care, monitoring and treatment of a physician,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley said. “This is a commonsense approach and will help safe and experienced truckers stay on our nation’s highways.”

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