Tractor trailer safety groups are saying that partially blind truck drivers could put public safety at risk.
Federal vision rules do not allow truck drivers with poor vision to operate big rigs. However this has not stopped the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from allowing more exemptions for hundreds of truck drivers that can see out of one eye.
Disability groups have praised the FMCSA move, but many truck safety organizations are upset because they see it as a dangerous decision that could injure the public.
According to one group, if you have lost half of your vision, that is going to be a real safety concern if the driver is driving a tractor trailer. The group says that it is important to have a full range of vision so that you can see emergency vehicles and dangers in the road.
Since August, more than 100 commercial truck driver licenses have been approved by the FMCSA. The new round of exemptions came this week when the organization proposed giving licenses to 33 more drivers who have poor vision in one eye.
Partially blind drivers are not the only people getting such exemptions. FMCSA also is exempting drivers who are hard of hearing and may have seizures.
FMCSA states that the drivers who have such disabilities and qualify for licenses are not posing any more risks on the road to other drivers, and would likely have the same level of safety that they would have if they did not have the disability.
Industry groups, such as the American Trucking Associations, have stated that FMCSA is not giving the exemptions to just anyone, and is very complete in screening the disabled drivers. But this still is alarming safety advocates.
As for us, in our work as truck accident lawyers in Virginia, we have seen the results of dangerous truck drivers who have full vision. For example, we have seen cases where blind spots in commercial trucks put motorcyclists at risk for injury and death. We recognize the need for FMCSA to provide work opportunities for partially disabled drivers who qualify, but hope that the government agency carefully considers public safety as well.