‘Long overdue’ — More driver voices raised on FMCSA’s diabetes rule-change proposal

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Today, July 6, is the final day to comment on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s official propoal to take the insulin-dependent diabetes diagnosis out of a special exemption program and into the routine medical-certification arena. The proposal, as reported previously, would allow for a special annual certification, provided medical examiners attest that the driver has the condition under control. In the words of one anonymous commenter to the docket, using language being promoted by the American Diabetes association, the change is viewed by many as simply “long overdue.”

Here’s what else the commenter, a man in his 40s whose father “lost his job and identity” years before care of a diabetes diagnosis, had to say:

We need to come together and change this law. Changing the diabetes standard to allow people with insulin-treated diabetes to drive commercial vehicles is long overdue and I applaud the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for taking this step now.

This proposed rule recognizes most people with diabetes safely operate motor vehicles. Under the new rule, each driver would be assessed on how diabetes affects him or her, and not simply a diagnosis of diabetes or the use of insulin.

If you haven’t yet weighed in on the issue, today is your last day — you have until midnight Eastern time to do so.

“Diabetes does not control us,” noted driver William Maruyama, and “does not affect the way I drive. And I’m always prepared for a low blood sugar incident with candy, food, drinks and glucose tabs handy. I control my diabetes as do millions of American diabetics.”

Drivers can make a comment before midnight July 6 at this link.

Not all are in support of the proposal. Medical Examiner Philip E. McAndrew of the Loyola University Health Clinic disagreed to “opening of DOT driving to those currently on insulin for [insulin-dependent diabetes, or IDDM]. The proposal again and again states that the reasonable IDDM driver will want to assure that his illness will be closely followed. The current regulations assure that the IDDM driver is reasonable and safe. I perform physicals on many drivers that are not reasonable around their chronic disease states. The proposal seems to state that the IDDM driver would no longer need the eye exam or the endocrinologist visit and would somehow save money. As a [certified medical examiner] I would make that a requirement each year anyway. We ask the endocrinologist to sign off as a way of assuring that the IDDM is well-controlled, compliant and the endocrinologist takes on the responsibility that this remains the case not just once a year but throughout the year.”

The pros and cons were discussed by drivers, medical examiner Randolph Rosarion and former FMCSA medical chief Elaine Papp, too, on Allen and Donna Smith’s Ask the Trucker Live online radio program a week and a half ago. Catch the replay below, and you can run through the commentary currently on the federal docket via this link.

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