DOT suggests amendment that could get diabetic truckers back on the road

| 2/25/2005

Truckers with insulin-controlled diabetes may have a door opened giving them a chance to get back on the road if a proposed amendment makes its way into law.

The Department of Transportation has sent a collection of proposed legislative amendments to Don Young, R-AK, chairman of the Congressional Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, requesting the committees’ consideration.

One of the proposals – if introduced and eventually voted into law – would allow the secretary of transportation to publish a proposal for the department to conduct a pilot program designed to get drivers with controlled insulin-dependent diabetes back on the road.

Right now, with the 2003 waiver program, drivers with insulin-dependent diabetes can only get a waiver from the medical requirement if they have three years driving experience while controlling their diabetes.

But, before the waiver program was enacted in 2003, drivers weren’t allowed to drive if they were insulin dependent, making the three-year requirement for the waiver impossible to meet.

The proposed pilot program would open the door to drivers who have control of their diabetes. And the proposed amendment makes it very clear that applicants to the program cannot be required to have any experience operating a commercial motor vehicle while using insulin – thus removing the three-year requirement.

The only real requirement applicants to the proposed program will face is that they must have their diabetes under control. People with Type 1 diabetes would face a minimum period of insulin use no longer than 60 days; Type 2 diabetics wouldn’t have to wait longer than 30 days.

Drivers who may qualify for the proposed pilot program would have to comply with all the other medical requirements but would get a pass on the diabetes section of the requirements.

According to the proposed amendment, the pilot program would compare the accident and regulatory compliance records of individuals with insulin-treated diabetes with those of the commercial driver population in general. Participants in the pilot program may be required to agree to certain medical review requirements as well as submit information that may be necessary to conduct and monitor the program.

If a participant completes the pilot program with an accident and regulatory compliance record at least equivalent to the record of other similar commercial drivers, the participant will be allowed to continue operating a commercial motor vehicle – provided they remain qualified otherwise.

The amendment has not been introduced into the committee for formal consideration at this point; it is just a suggestion of sorts from Department of Transportation officials.

By Jami Jones