FMCSA Proposes Changing Vision Standards to “Enhance Employment Opportunities”

Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing multiple changes to current vision requirements for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators.

In a newly issued Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the FMCSA is seeking comment on a proposal to amend current regulations in order to “permit an individual who cannot meet either the current distant visual acuity or field of vision standard, or both, in one eye to be physically qualified to operate a CMV in interstate commerce under specified conditions.”


In lieu of current regulations, the Agency is proposing an “alternative vision standard” requiring that the individual must: (1) have in the better eye distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen), with or without corrective lenses, and field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian; (2) be able to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber; (3) have a stable vision deficiency; and (4) have had sufficient time to adapt to and compensate for the change in vision.

The proposal also would require a two-step certification process for physical qualification.


According to the FMCSA:

First, an individual seeking physical qualification would obtain a vision evaluation from an ophthalmologist or optometrist who would record the findings and provide specific medical opinions on the proposed Vision Evaluation Report, Form MCSA-5871, which incorporates the recommendations of the Medical Review Board (MRB).

Next, an Medical Examiner (ME) would perform an examination and determine whether the individual meets the proposed vision standard, as well as FMCSA’s other physical qualification standards.

If the ME determines that the individual meets the physical qualification standards, the ME could issue a Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876, for a maximum of 12 months.


Additionally, instead of requiring three years of intrastate driving experience with the vision deficiency as in the current exemption program, individuals physically qualified under the proposed alternative vision standard for the first time would complete a road test before operating in interstate commerce.


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Individuals would be exempted from the road test requirement if they have three years of intrastate or excepted interstate CMV driving experience with the vision deficiency, hold a valid Federal vision exemption, or are medically certified under § 391.64(b).

Motor carriers would conduct the road test.


“FMCSA finds that a road test would be an appropriate indicator of an individual’s ability to operate a CMV safely with the vision deficiency,” the NPRM states.

Furthermore, the Agency asserts this proposal is based on recommendations from the MRB and will serve to “enhance employment opportunities” for those seeking to become CMV operators.

The comment period will be 60 days.

You may submit comments by logging on to and searching docket number FMCSA-2019-0049.

Click HERE to read the entire NPRM.



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