Last year, following a directive from Congress, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a detailed study that concluded that a "safe and practicable protocol" for licensing individuals with insulin-treated diabetes is feasible. The next step is a formal proposal published in the Federal Register inviting public comment. The agency says that’s currently in the works.
The proposal is bound to draw fire from safety groups such as the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which waged a successful court battle against a similar program in 1993. On the other side of the controversy, it has already received sharp criticism from the American Diabetes Assn., which says the waiver requirements, as detailed in FMCSA’s report to Congress, are too strict. Specifically, the association takes issue with FMCSA’s recommendation that waiver applicants have at least three years of recent experience operating a commercial vehicle while being treated for insulin-dependent diabetes. (Some states grant waivers to diabetics or have grandfathered those who were licensed before state bans were adopted. Those drivers are restricted to intrastate trucking.)
"This standard would eliminate the vast majority of potential drivers with diabetes from even attempting to qualify," the association argued in the May issue of Diabetes Forecast magazine. It also argued that these "screening components" are not supported by the medical experts FMCSA consulted.
FMCSA, however, is likely to stick to its guns -- as it has with experience requirements for drivers seeking exemptions from federal vision standards. Requirements regarding a diabetic applicant’s safety record will be equally strict: no license revocations or suspensions in that three-year period (in a truck or personal vehicle), no accidents where a traffic citation was issued, no disqualifying offenses or serious traffic violations while operating a CMV.
The report to Congress also contained specific medical requirements including annual examinations, and glucose readings every four hours while on duty.