Research Project

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Examining FMCSA Vision Standard for CMV Drivers and Waiver Program


To re-examine the vision standard for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and evaluate the efficacy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) vision waiver program.


Safe driving requires a combination of good vision, adequate visual field, ability to spread attention over the field of view, and motor skills. Visual inputs are essential for driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). It is difficult to provide rigorous scientific evidence for the level of vision required for safe driving because driving is a highly complex task.


The aim of this research is to review the current visual requirements, concentrating on the requirements for visual acuity and visual fields, for CMV drivers and consider the limitations. The current standard requires drivers to have:
  • A distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses;
  • A distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses;
  • A field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal Meridian in each eye;
  • The ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber.
In this age of evidence-based standards, it is pertinent to justify the current visual acuity standards. Driving research is fraught with limitations associated with the multi-factorial nature of the task and the difficulties in accessing accurate crash data. Studies have only shown a weak link between visual acuity and crash rates.
Additionally, this study will assess the proportion of people, particularly the aging CMV drivers, who fail to meet the current visual requirements.


Final report that summarizes the review of research literature on driving vision standards, analysis of vision testing and crash risk, and an analysis of the crash risk posed by drivers who were allowed into the vision waiver program by type of visual anomaly.


October 2016: Kick-off meeting.
December 2016: Detailed work plan submitted.
February 2017: Peer review meeting.
June 2017: Draft literature review submitted; interviews with medical experts in progress.
July 2017: Letter report with results of interviews.
May 2018: Letter report with crash analysis findings and evaluation of vision waiver program.
June 2018: Presentation to the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and the Medical Review Board.
August 2018: Draft final report and brief.
November 2018: Final report and brief.
June 2018: Presentation to the Medical Review Board.
June 2019: Peer review report. (pending)
July 2019: Final report. (pending)


FY 2016: $488,079

Current Status:

Active—draft final report submitted for review.

Project Manager:

For more information, contact Martin Walker of the Research Division at (202) 385-2364 or


Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and University of Alabama at Birmingham
Updated: Tuesday, May 28, 2019
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