FMCSA Proposal Creates New Vision Deficiency Standards for Truck Drivers

FMCSA Proposal Creates New Vision Deficiency Standards for Truck DriversIt seems natural to think that all truck drivers should have 20-20 vision in both eyes, even if they need glasses to achieve it. This is especially true for commercial truck drivers who haul agricultural, manufacturing, industrial, and retail products throughout the country. Soon, however, that may no longer be the case. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is now seeking to relax some vision standards in order to enable more drivers to qualify as commercial drivers and to save costs.

In a notice of proposed rulemaking, the FMCSA is proposing a change to current regulations. According to, the FMCSA asserts that drivers with vision loss in one eye “can and do develop compensatory viewing behavior to mitigate the vision loss.”

The FMCSA is proposing that individuals should be able to drive trucks “once an individual’s vision is stable and the individual has adapted to and compensated for the change in vision.” The current regulations require that drivers have three years’ experience driving with the one-eye vision deficiency within a state. The FMCSA proposal provides that drivers who meet the new vision standard requirements and complete a road test could drive in interstate commerce.

Drivers will not have to take the road test if they have three years’ of CMV driving experience with a vision deficiency, and they have “a valid federal vision exemption or are medically certified, according to FMCSA.”

The FMCSA states that the road test should be sufficient to indicate the driver’s ability to operate a commercial vehicle with a vision deficiency.

Who will determine if a trucker with vision loss can drive?

The new FMCSA proposal essentially places the determination of the driver’s physical qualifications in the hands (or eyes if you will) of a medical examiner. Per Freightwaves, “To qualify under the alternative standard the driver must:

  1. Have distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 in the better eye, with or without corrective lenses, and field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian.
  2. Be able to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green and amber.
  3. Have a stable vision deficiency.
  4. Have had sufficient time to adapt to and compensate for the change in vision.”

If the FMCSA regulation is adopted, more than 2,500 “current vision exemption holders would no longer require an exemption.” The new regulation should also attract many new applicants who don’t meet the current three-year driving deficiency experience test – but do meet the new medical examination test. The agency also estimates that the regulation will save about $1.6 million by eliminating the need for the FMCSA exemption program.

At Biby Law Firm, our Tulsa truck accident lawyers hold truck drivers and trucking companies liable for the accidents they cause. We investigate all causes of a truck accident from driver distraction, driver fatigue, and speeding – to the validity of the driver’s commercial license. To talk with an experienced truck accident lawyer, call us at 918-574-8458 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.