FMCSA grants exemptions to 45 insulin-dependent diabetics

| 11/20/2006

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted exemptions to 45 truckers from the rule prohibiting people with insulin-treated diabetes from driving trucks in interstate commerce.

On Oct.3, FMCSA published a notice of receipt of diabetes exemption applications from the 45 individuals on the Federal Register, and requested comments from the public. The public comment period closed on Nov 2. Four comments were received. FMCSA granted the exemptions Monday, Nov. 20.

The 45 applicants have had insulin-treated diabetes ranging from one to 43 years. In their applications, applicants reported no hypoglycemic reaction that resulted in loss of consciousness or seizure that required the assistance of another person, or resulted in impaired cognitive function without warning symptoms in the past five years.

The exemptions from the federal rule are good for two years.

The terms and conditions of the exemption include the following:

That each individual submit a quarterly monitoring checklist completed by the treating endocrinologist as well as an annual checklist with a comprehensive medical evaluation;

That each individual reports within two business days of occurrence, all episodes of severe hypoglycemia, significant complications or inability to manage diabetes; also, any involvement in an accident or any other adverse event in a CMV or personal vehicle, whether or not they are related to an episode of hypoglycemia;

That each individual provide a copy of the ophthalmologist's or optometrist's report to the medical examiner at the time of the annual medical examination; and

That each individual provide a copy of the annual medical certification to the employer for retention in the driver's qualification file, or keep a copy in his/her driver's qualification file if he/she is self-employed. The driver must also have a copy of the certification when driving, for presentation to a duly authorized Federal, State, or local enforcement official.

The exemptions may be revoked by FMCSA for a variety of reasons, one of which is failure to comply with the terms and conditions.

Under the current regs, exemption from the diabetes standard may be granted if the exemption is likely to achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved without the exemption. The exemption allows an insulin-dependent trucker to operate interstate.

Recent changes in the regulation made it where insulin-dependent truckers no longer have to prove three years of driving experience when applying for an exemption from the FMCSA.

Language in federal highway funding legislation instructed FMCSA to eliminate the three-year driving requirement that kept nearly all insulin-using truckers sidelined to intrastate driving.

Agency officials confirmed to Land Line in October 2005 that FMCSA had eliminated the three-year driving requirement.

FMCSA published a notice of final disposition on the Federal Register Nov. 8, 2005, making the elimination of the driving requirement official.

Now, once a trucker completes an application is complete - and drivers and their physicians often take many months to complete an individual application - FMCSA has a 180-day statutory requirement to provide a decision, which includes Federal Register publication and comment analysis.

According to an FMCSA spokesman, currently, the average time is approximately four and one-half months, but can vary depending on the complexity of the case.

For more information on applying for a waiver from the diabetes standard, visit