SPECIAL REPORT: OOIDA wants diabetes waiver process eliminated

| 6/19/2006

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed comments supporting the elimination of the waiver process that insulin-dependent truckers must complete before driving interstate.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration posted an "advanced notice of proposed rulemaking" in March. The notice solicited comments on the possibility of eliminating the waiver process. The comment period closed June 15. FMCSA does not have a timetable for any further action on the issue.

"OOIDA supports amending the existing medical qualification standards to allow drivers with (insulin-treated diabetes mellitus) to operate a CMV in interstate commerce without first obtaining an exemption," the Association's comments stated.

Supporting diabetics is not a new position for the Association. According to its comments, OOIDA has long supported the position that diabetes should not "patently disqualify" a driver from driving interstate.

OOIDA acknowledged the recent elimination of the three-year driving requirement from the waiver process. However, Association officials do not believe this goes far enough in encouraging truckers to address their medical needs.

"Those changes . have not had the effect of encouraging many persons in trucking to acknowledge their condition and seek treatment or of inviting into the driving profession persons who successfully manage their (diabetic) condition," the comments stated.

Instead of going through the exemption procedures, OOIDA recommends insulin-dependent diabetics should be able to get medical certification that their condition can be managed. The Association suggested in its comments that a driver should prove control to the satisfaction of both the medical examiner and his or her personal physician before receiving the certification.

FMCSA posed several questions for those commenting that basically sought input on whether trucking was any harder on insulin-dependent people than other professions.

And, just as OOIDA does not support a blanket prohibition on all insulin-diabetics from driving interstate, the Association does not believe trucking can be determined to be any harder physically on diabetics than other professions.

"The choice to be fit occurs outside of one's employment," the comments state. "An individual's dietary choices, whether to eat healthy or not, is a personal decision. It is not imposed by a particular industry upon its workers."

- By Jami Jones, senior editor