01/31/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/31/2023 07:17
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Department of Transportation (DOT).
Notice of final disposition.
FMCSA announces its decision to exempt 15 individuals from the hearing requirement in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce. The exemptions enable these hard of hearing and deaf individuals to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.
The exemptions are applicable on January 30, 2023. The exemptions expire on January 30, 2025.
Ms. Christine A. Hydock, Chief, Medical Programs Division, FMCSA, DOT, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W64-224, Washington, DC 20590-0001, (202) 366-4001, [email protected] Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. If you have questions regarding viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact Dockets Operations, (202) 366-9826.
To view comments go to www.regulations.gov. Insert the docket number (FMCSA-2022-0038) in the keyword box and click "Search." Next, sort the results by "Posted (Newer-Older)," choose the first notice listed, and click "Browse Comments." If you do not have access to the internet, you may view the docket online by visiting Dockets Operations in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the DOT West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 366-9317 or (202) 366-9826 before visiting Dockets Operations.
In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315(b)(6), DOT solicits comments from the public on the exemption requests. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov. As described in the system of records notice DOT/ALL 14 (Federal Docket Management System), which can be reviewed at https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/privacy/privacy-act-system-records-notices, the comments are searchable by the name of the submitter.
On December 20, 2022, FMCSA published a notice announcing receipt of applications from 15 individuals requesting an exemption from the hearing requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(11) to operate a CMV in interstate commerce and requested comments from the public (87 FR 77915). The public comment period ended on January 19, 2023, and no comments were received.
FMCSA has evaluated the eligibility of these applicants and determined that granting exemptions to these individuals would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by complying with § 391.41(b)(11).
The physical qualification standard for drivers regarding hearing found in § 391.41(b)(11) states that a person is physically qualified to drive a CMV if that person first perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without the use of a hearing aid or, if tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the audiometric device is calibrated to American National Standard (formerly ASA Standard) Z24.5-1951.
This standard was adopted in 1970 and was revised in 1971 to allow drivers to be qualified under this standard while wearing a hearing aid (35 FR 6458, 6463 (Apr. 22, 1970) and 36 FR 12857 (July 8, 1971), respectively).
FMCSA received no comments in this proceeding.
Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b), FMCSA may grant an exemption from the FMCSRs for no longer than a 5-year period if it finds such exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption. The statutes also allow the Agency to renew exemptions at the end of the 5-year period. However, FMCSA grants medical exemptions from the FMCSRs for a 2-year period to align with the maximum duration of a driver's medical certification.
The Agency's decision regarding these exemption applications is based on relevant scientific information and literature, and the 2008 Evidence Report, "Executive Summary on Hearing, Vestibular Function and Commercial Motor Driving Safety." The evidence report reached two conclusions regarding the matter of hearing loss and CMV driver safety: (1) no studies that examined the relationship between hearing loss and crash risk exclusively among CMV drivers were identified; and (2) evidence from studies of the private driver's license holder population does not support the contention that individuals with hearing impairment are at an increased risk for a crash. In addition, the Agency reviewed each applicant's driving record found in the Commercial Driver's License Information System, for commercial driver's license (CDL) holders, and inspections recorded in the Motor Carrier Management Information System. For non-CDL holders, the Agency reviewed the driving records from the State Driver's Licensing Agency. Each applicant's record demonstrated a safe driving history. Based on an individual assessment of each applicant that focused on whether an equal or greater level of safety would likely be achieved by permitting each of these drivers to drive in interstate commerce, the Agency finds the drivers granted this exemption have demonstrated that they do not pose a risk to public safety.
Consequently, FMCSA finds further that in each case exempting these applicants from the hearing standard in § 391.41(b)(11) would likely achieve a level of safety equal to that existing without the exemption, consistent with the applicable standard in 49 U.S.C. 31315(b)(1).
The terms and conditions of the exemption are provided to the applicants in the exemption document and include the following: (1) each driver must report any crashes or accidents as defined in § 390.5T; (2) each driver must report all citations and convictions for disqualifying offenses under 49 CFR parts 383 and 391 to FMCSA; and (3) each driver is prohibited from operating a motorcoach or bus with passengers in interstate commerce. The driver must also have a copy of the exemption when driving, for presentation to a duly authorized Federal, State, or local enforcement official. In addition, the exemption does not exempt the individual from meeting the applicable CDL testing requirements.
During the period the exemption is in effect, no State shall enforce any law or regulation that conflicts with this exemption with respect to a person operating under the exemption.
Based upon its evaluation of the 15 exemption applications, FMCSA exempts the following drivers from the hearing standard; in § 391.41(b)(11), subject to the requirements cited above:
Sean Brodacz (IL)
Travis Bunn (AR)
Allen Carrasco (CA)
Matthew Kaschalk (TN)
Jennifer Cowan (AR)
Chad D'Amore (PA
Fawina Dieteric (FL)
Kathryn Dych (IN)
Keith Hulse (TN)
Alexander Jones (MS)
Claudio Monegro (MD)
Erica Muhm (KY)
Brett Ripp (FL)
Wayne Todd (NE)
Christopher Zrimsek (FL)
In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315(b), each exemption will be valid for 2 years from the effective date unless revoked earlier by FMCSA. The exemption will be revoked if the following occurs: (1) the person fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the exemption; (2) the exemption has resulted in a lower level of safety than was maintained prior to being granted; or (3) continuation of the exemption would not be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31136, 49 U.S.C. chapter 313, or the FMCSRs.