[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 126 (Tuesday, June 30, 2020)]
[Pages 39267-39268]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-14048]



Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2020-0025]

Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Hearing

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of final disposition.


SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to exempt 11 individuals from the 
hearing requirement in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs) to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate 
commerce. The exemptions enable these hard of hearing and deaf 
individuals to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

DATES: The exemptions were applicable on June 18, 2020. The exemptions 
expire on June 18, 2022.

Medical Programs Division, (202) 366-4001, [email protected], FMCSA, 
Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W64-224, 
Washington, DC 20590-0001. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 
ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. If you have 
questions regarding viewing or submitting material to the docket, 
contact Docket Operations, (202) 366-9826.


I. Public Participation

A. Viewing Documents and Comments

    To view comments, as well as any documents mentioned in this notice 
as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FMCSA-2020-0025 and choose the document to review. If you do 
not have access to the internet, you may view the docket online by 
visiting the Docket Operations in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of 
the DOT West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590, 
between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 
366-9317 or (202) 366-9826 before visiting Docket Operations.

B. Privacy Act

    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the 
public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these 
comments, without edit, including any personal information the 
commenter provides, to

[[Page 39268]]

www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/
ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.transportation.gov/privacy.

II. Background

    On May 19, 2020, FMCSA published a notice announcing receipt of 
applications from 11 individuals requesting an exemption from the 
hearing requirement in 49 CFR 391.41(b)(11) to operate a CMV in 
interstate commerce and requested comments from the public (85 FR 
30009). The public comment period ended on June 18, 2020, and no 
comments were received.
    FMCSA has evaluated the eligibility of these applicants and 
determined that granting exemptions to these individuals would achieve 
a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would 
be achieved by complying with Sec.  391.41(b)(11).
    The physical qualification standard for drivers regarding hearing 
found in Sec.  391.41(b)(11) states that a person is physically 
qualified to drive a CMV if that person 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.
    This standard was adopted in 1970 and was revised in 1971 to allow 
drivers to be qualified under this standard while wearing a hearing 
aid, 35 FR 6458, 6463 (April 22, 1970) and 36 FR 12857 (July 3, 1971).

III. Discussion of Comments

    FMCSA received no comments in this proceeding.

IV. Basis for Exemption Determination

    Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b), FMCSA may grant an exemption 
from the FMCSRs for no longer than a 5-year period if it finds such 
exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, 
or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such 
exemption. The statute also allows the Agency to renew exemptions at 
the end of the 5-year period. FMCSA grants medical exemptions from the 
FMCSRs for a 2-year period to align with the maximum duration of a 
driver's medical certification.
    The Agency's decision regarding these exemption applications is 
based on current medical information and literature, and the 2008 
Evidence Report, ``Executive Summary on Hearing, Vestibular Function 
and Commercial Motor Driving Safety.'' The evidence report reached two 
conclusions regarding the matter of hearing loss and CMV driver safety: 
(1) No studies that examined the relationship between hearing loss and 
crash risk exclusively among CMV drivers were identified; and (2) 
evidence from studies of the private driver's license holder population 
does not support the contention that individuals with hearing 
impairment are at an increased risk for a crash. In addition, the 
Agency reviewed each applicant's driving record found in the Commercial 
Driver's License Information System, for commercial driver's license 
(CDL) holders, and inspections recorded in the Motor Carrier Management 
Information System. For non-CDL holders, the Agency reviewed the 
driving records from the State Driver's Licensing Agency. Each 
applicant's record demonstrated a safe driving history. Based on an 
individual assessment of each applicant that focused on whether an 
equal or greater level of safety is likely to be achieved by permitting 
each of these drivers to drive in interstate commerce as opposed to 
restricting him or her to driving in intrastate commerce, the Agency 
believes the drivers granted this exemption have demonstrated that they 
do not pose a risk to public safety.
    Consequently, FMCSA finds that in each case exempting these 
applicants from the hearing standard in Sec.  391.41(b)(11) is likely 
to achieve a level of safety equal to that existing without the 

V. Conditions and Requirements

    The terms and conditions of the exemption are provided to the 
applicants in the exemption document and includes the following: (1) 
Each driver must report any crashes or accidents as defined in Sec.  
390.5; (2) each driver must report all citations and convictions for 
disqualifying offenses under 49 CFR part 383 and 49 CFR part 391 to 
FMCSA; and (3) each driver is prohibited from operating a motorcoach or 
bus with passengers in interstate commerce. The driver must also have a 
copy of the exemption when driving, for presentation to a duly 
authorized Federal, State, or local enforcement official. In addition, 
the exemption does not exempt the individual from meeting the 
applicable CDL testing requirements.

VI. Preemption

    During the period the exemption is in effect, no State shall 
enforce any law or regulation that conflicts with this exemption with 
respect to a person operating under the exemption.

VII. Conclusion

    Based upon its evaluation of the 11 exemption applications, FMCSA 
exempts the following drivers from the hearing standard, Sec.  
391.41(b)(11), subject to the requirements cited above:

Joshua Affholter (MI)
Gantulga Badarach (IL)
Awash Demoz (MD)
Daniel DeSimone (MD)
Muhammad Javed (IN)
Charles O'Bryan (NY)
Darrell Pfaff (TX
Juan Reyes, Jr. (TX)
Steven Rice (NY)
Anna Ruiz (AZ)
Kyle Taylor (GA)

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315(b), each exemption will be valid 
for 2 years from the effective date unless revoked earlier by FMCSA. 
The exemption will be revoked if the following occurs: (1) The person 
fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the exemption; (2) the 
exemption has resulted in a lower level of safety than was maintained 
prior to being granted; or (3) continuation of the exemption would not 
be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 

Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2020-14048 Filed 6-29-20; 8:45 am]