2019-18964. Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders  

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    AGENCY:

    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of final disposition.

    SUMMARY:

    FMCSA announces its decision to exempt six individuals from the requirement in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) that interstate commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers have “no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition which Start Printed Page 46087is likely to cause loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to control a CMV.” The exemptions enable these individuals who have had one or more seizures and are taking anti-seizure medication to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

    DATES:

    The exemptions were applicable on June 18, 2019. The exemptions expire on June 18, 2021.

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    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Christine A. Hydock, Chief, Medical Programs Division, (202) 366-4001, fmcsamedical@dot.gov, FMCSA, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W64-224, Washington, DC 20590-0001. 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 Docket Services, (202) 366-9826.

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    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Public Participation

    A. Viewing Documents and Comments

    To view comments, as well as any documents mentioned in this notice as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov/​docket?​D=​FMCSA-2019-0029 and choose the document to review. If you do not have access to the internet, you may view the docket online by visiting the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the DOT West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    B. Privacy Act

    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. 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 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.dot.gov/​privacy.

    II. Background

    On May 9, 2019, FMCSA published a notice announcing receipt of applications from six individuals requesting an exemption from the epilepsy and seizure disorders prohibition in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(8) and requested comments from the public (84 FR 20464.) The public comment period ended on June 10, 2019, and one comments was received.

    FMCSA has evaluated the eligibility of these applicants and determined that granting exemptions to these individuals would achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by complying with § 391.41(b)(8).

    The physical qualification standard for drivers regarding epilepsy found in § 391.41(b)(8) states that a person is physically qualified to drive a CMV if that person has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition which is likely to cause the loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to control a CMV.

    In addition to the regulations, FMCSA has published advisory criteria [1] to assist medical examiners (MEs) in determining whether drivers with certain medical conditions are qualified to operate a CMV in interstate commerce.

    III. Discussion of Comments

    FMCSA received one comment in this proceeding. The commenter expressed his concerns that drivers with a history of seizure disorders may have additional episodes of loss of consciousness. In response to this comment, prior to deciding to grant these exemptions, FMCSA considered each driver's health history and driving records to determine that these drivers can operate a CMV at a level of safety that meets or exceeds that of other drivers.

    IV. Basis for Exemption Determination

    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 statute also allows the Agency to renew exemptions at the end of the 5-year period. 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 the 2007 recommendations of the Agency's Medical Expert Panel (MEP). The Agency conducted an individualized assessment of each applicant's medical information, including the root cause of the respective seizure(s) and medical information about the applicant's seizure history, the length of time that has elapsed since the individual's last seizure, the stability of each individual's treatment regimen and the duration of time on or off of anti-seizure medication. In addition, the Agency reviewed the treating clinician's medical opinion related to the ability of the driver to safely operate a CMV with a history of seizure and each applicant's driving record found in the Commercial Driver's License Information System for commercial driver's license (CDL) holders, and interstate and intrastate 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 (SDLA). A summary of each applicant's seizure history was discussed in the May 9, 2019, Federal Register notice (84 FR 20464) and will not be repeated in this notice.

    These six applicants have been seizure-free over a range of 15 years while taking anti-seizure medication and maintained a stable medication treatment regimen for the last 2 years. In each case, the applicant's treating physician verified his or her seizure history and supports the ability to drive commercially.

    The Agency acknowledges the potential consequences of a driver experiencing a seizure while operating a CMV. However, the Agency believes the drivers granted this exemption have demonstrated that they are unlikely to have a seizure and their medical condition does not pose a risk to public safety.

    Consequently, FMCSA finds that in each case exempting these applicants from the epilepsy and seizure disorder prohibition in § 391.41(b)(8) is likely to achieve a level of safety equal to that existing without the exemption.

    V. Conditions and Requirements

    The terms and conditions of the exemption are provided to the applicants in the exemption document and includes the following: (1) Each driver must remain seizure-free and maintain a stable treatment during the 2-year exemption period; (2) each driver must submit annual reports from their treating physicians attesting to the stability of treatment and that the driver has remained seizure-free; (3) each driver must undergo an annual medical examination by a certified ME, as defined by § 390.5; and (4) each driver must provide a copy of the annual medical certification to the employer for retention in the driver's qualification file, or keep a copy of his/her driver's qualification file if he/she is self-employed. The driver must also have a copy of the exemption when driving, for Start Printed Page 46088presentation to a duly authorized Federal, State, or local enforcement official.

    VI. Preemption

    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.

    VII. Conclusion

    Based upon its evaluation of the six exemption applications, FMCSA exempts the following drivers from the epilepsy and seizure disorder prohibition, § 391.41(b)(8), subject to the requirements cited above:

    Gary Bartels (SD)

    Charles Davenport (TN)

    Alan Finlayson (AL)

    Gregory Long (CT)

    John McFarland (VA)

    Scott Schelske (SD)

    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(e) and 31315(b).

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    Issued on: August 21, 2019.

    Larry W. Minor,

    Associate Administrator for Policy.

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    Footnotes

    1.  These criteria may be found in APPENDIX A TO PART 391—MEDICAL ADVISORY CRITERIA, section H. Epilepsy: § 391.41(b)(8), paragraphs 3, 4, and 5, which is available on the internet at https://www.gpo.gov/​fdsys/​pkg/​CFR-2015-title49-vol5/​pdf/​CFR-2015-title49-vol5-part391-appA.pdf.

    Back to Citation

    [FR Doc. 2019-18964 Filed 8-30-19; 8:45 am]

    BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

Document Information

Published:
09/03/2019
Department:
Transportation Department
Agency:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
EntryType:
Notice
Action:
Notice of final disposition.
Document Number:
2019-18964
Dates:
The exemptions were applicable on June 18, 2019. The exemptions expire on June 18, 2021.
Pages:
46086-46088 (3 pages)
Docket Numbers:
FMCSA Docket No. FMCSA-2019-0029
SectionNoes:
PDF File:
2019-18964.pdf