FMCSA to issue diabetes exemptions

Published September, 19 2003

Beginning Sept. 22, some insulin-dependent diabetic truck and bus drivers may apply for an exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s diabetes prohibition.

The agency said that it will issue exemptions for commercial driver’s license holders engaged in interstate commerce, but it has not amended its diabetes standard.

The maximum exemption period is two years and can be renewed.

“FMCSA believes that thorough screening of exemption applicants and periodic monitoring of their safety performance is the most practical way to ensure safety on the nation’s highways,” said FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg.

U.S. law dictates that an exemption may be given only if it is likely to result in a safety level equal to or greater than what would be achieved minus the exemption.

The diabetes exemption docket will remain open for new information and data on alternatives to the specific exemption conditions just announced. The agency will continue program evaluation while it collects information about insulin-treated diabetic drivers. The agency may change the program based on that information.

The FMCSA must publish a notice in the Federal Register before issuing an exemption. The notice will identify who will receive the exemption and the provisions from which they will be exempt, the exemption period and the exemption’s terms and conditions. It also will consider comments received in making a final decision, which also will be published in the Federal Register. Denied exemption requests and the reasons for rejection also will appear in the Federal Register.

An exemption can be revoked immediately if the person fails to comply with the exemption’s terms and conditions, or if the exemption results in a lower safety level.

The exemption process consists of a screening component to identify qualified applicants, followed by providing guidelines for diabetes management when operating a commercial vehicle. The third component details how the agency will monitor these drivers.

The agency issues its final decision on exemptions within 180 days of receiving an application.

The FMCSA established the exemption process after reviewing research on the effects of insulin-treated diabetes on driver performance and from the U.S. Department of Transportation and state exemption programs. It also received substantial medical input from endocrinologists.

To apply for an exemption, send a request and documentation to: FMCSA Diabetes Exemption Program, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590.