Comments of the American Diabetes Association Docket No. FMCSA-2001-9800 October 1, 2001
The American Diabetes Association (“Association”) submits this comment in response to the notice by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of its proposal to issue exemptions from the blanket prohibition against individuals who use insulin to treat their diabetes currently contained in Part 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). This regulation governs the medical qualifications for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce, and makes it impossible for anyone who controls their diabetes with insulin to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for interstate operations.
The Association began its fight against this blanket prohibition in the 1980’s by filing a petition for rulemaking to amend the driver qualification standards in Part 391. In the 1990’s, Congress recognized that this blanket prohibition may not be necessary given advances in medicine, technology, and diabetes care. In the Transportation Equity Act for
the 21st Century, Congress directed the U.S. Department of the feasibility of replacing the blanket prohibition with individual assessment of applicants who use insulin to
Transportation (DOT) to a screening protocol control their diabetes.
evaluate to allow If DOT
determined that such a screening protocol was feasible and safe, it a rulemaking to end the blanket prohibition. The current proposal to from the DOT’s determination that a screening protocol was feasible
was required to initiate issue exemptions arose and safe.
The Association generally applauds FMCSA for advancing a proposal to end the current blanket ban that prevents anyone with insulin-treated diabetes from meeting the medical standards necessary to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce and therefore obtain a CDL. This proposal and change in policy is long overdue, and will implement a methodology for individual assessment of applicants.
“Blanket bans”— such as this one – were generally created when diabetes was far less understood, and before the discovery of the many effective medical treatments and supplies available for diabetes management today. In light of these advancements, a blanket policy is not consistent with the national interest because it causes unnecessary economic disruption, is not required for highway safety, and is discriminatory.
The Association does not believe that every person with insulin-treated diabetes should automatically qualify for a CDL. Rather, the Association strongly supports replacing the blanket ban with a medically sound protocol for individual assessment that maximizes both safety and employment opportunities for people with diabetes. Such a protocol should be stringent – to ensure safety – but its requirements should be firmly based upon medical and scientific knowledge.