Since 1998, when Congress granted expanded authority to grant exemptions, FMCSA and, before it, the Federal Highway Administration, has issued hundreds of two-year renewable exemptions to drivers with impaired vision in one eye.
By court order, the agency must review the individual merits of all applicants, but it has developed general guidelines for approval: at least three years of recent commercial vehicle driving experience with impaired vision (usually with waivers issued for intrastate driving by many states), no citations for moving violations in conjunction with an accident, no more than two convictions for moving violations in the last three years, no other disqualifying physical impairments, and the ability to meet federal vision standards with the unimpaired eye.
Almost 90% of the unsuccessful applicants didn’t have the required driving experience. Most of those didn’t have sufficient recent experience; two had no experience driving a commercial vehicle. Five had been convicted of moving violations in conjunction with accidents, two had more than two speeding tickets, and two had license suspensions. Two had other disqualifying medical conditions and 15 did not meet vision standards for the good eye.
Federal rules require FMCSA to publish the names of successful and unsuccessful applicants. Prior to publication, all unsuccessful applicants were notified in writing with an explanation for its decision. The list, with reasons for denial, was published December 11, 2000, in the Federal Register which can be accessed on the Internet at www.nara.gov/fedreg.