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Yesterday I wrote a blog titled “Does the Semi-Truck Driver Speak English?” As I stated in that blog, McIntyre Law is currently involved in several catastrophic semi-truck accidents that have caused permanent injuries and/or death to our clients. I wanted to follow up on the article and discuss another area of driver qualification.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, at 49 CFR 391.11, requires that in order to get a Commercial Driver’s License, an applicant must be “ physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with subpart E—Physical Qualifications and Examinations of this part.”

Below is a good video discussing this topic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDEUBrHA3vw

Now that you have taken the time to watch the above video (or if you didn’t take the time), the requirements as codified in subpart E is that “a person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if that person:”

1. Has no loss of a foot, a leg, a hand, or an arm, or has been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate pursuant to §391.49;

2. Has no impairment of: (i) A hand or finger which interferes with prehension or power grasping; or (ii) an arm, foot, or leg which interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with operating a commercial motor vehicle; or any other significant limb defect or limitation which interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with operating a commercial motor vehicle; or has been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate pursuant to§391.49.

3. Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus currently requiring insulin for control;

4. Has no current clinical diagnosis of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, coronary insufficiency, thrombosis, or any other cardiovascular disease of a variety known to be accompanied by syncope, dyspnea, collapse, or congestive cardiac failure;

5. Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with his/her ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle safely;

6. Has no current clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure likely to interfere with his/her ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely;

7. Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of rheumatic, arthritic, orthopedic, muscular, neuromuscular, or vascular disease which interferes with his/her ability to control and operate a commercial motor vehicle safely;

8. Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition which is likely to cause loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to control a commercial motor vehicle;

  • 9. Has no mental, nervous, organic, or functional disease or psychiatric disorder likely to interfere with his/her ability to drive a commercial motor vehicle safely;
  • 10. Has distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses, distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses, field of vision of at least 70º in the horizontal meridian in each eye, and the ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber;

11. 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;

12. Does not use a controlled substance identified in 21 CFR 1308.11 Schedule I, an amphetamine, a narcotic, or any other habit-forming drug

  • 13. Has no current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism.
  • Once again, this list is too exhaustive to address in one blog. I want to discuss prong one which states “has no loss of a foot, a leg, a hand, or an arm, or has been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate pursuant to §391.49
  • Now on the outset this may sound as if it is unnecessarily picking out those members of our society who have the listed issues. However, remember that the Federal Highway Safety Administration’s objective should be to ensure that operators of 80,000 lbs motor-carriers to no pose an unnecessary risk to the American motorist.
  • While I’m sure we know of motorists who traverse our roads with the above issues, you have to remember that operating a semi is simply not driving. It involves down shifting in hazardous situations, controlling unstable loads such as paper loads, it involves navigating potentially dangerous turns and intersections as well as numerous driver activities. Sadly, in most circumstances the skills necessary to drive a semi at a safe level involve using the aforementioned body parts.
  • While this doesn’t seem to be an overtly serious issue for motor carriers in my experience, we will begin to address the other above listed issues in the coming weeks which are often overlooked by Trucking Companies in the hiring and retention of drivers.

3 Comments

  1. Gravatar for Gerry McGill

    Great blog. Do you know of any reputable studies of how many or what percentage of drivers may not meet these qualifications?

  2. Gravatar for Truckie D

    Jeremy - Do you have any figures on the number of waivers granted by the DOT for such physical conditions?

  3. This is all very important information that has to be asked and analyzed by experienced attorneys when there is a tragedy. It's the difference between people that know what they are doing and those that never have had a truck case. Great information.

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