February 1, 2000
VISION STANDARDS FOR TRUCK DRIVERS
By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst
You asked whether state or federal law requires drivers of tractor- trailers to have 20/40 uncorrected vision.
State and federal law requires drivers of commercial vehicles to have a commercial driver's license (CDL). This requirement applies to drivers of any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating over 26,000 pounds, buses, and vehicles that carry hazardous materials. Under federal regulations (49 CFR § 391.41) a person normally must have 20/40 vision in each eye as measured by the Snellen test to obtain a CDL. A person can meet this requirement with corrective lenses, such as glasses, if his uncorrected vision does not meet this standard. The person must also have a field of vision of at least 70 degrees in each eye, (i.e. cannot suffer from tunnel vision). Finally, the person must be able to distinguish between red, green, and amber traffic signals. Federal regulations (49 CFR § 391.41) also prescribe other physical qualifications for a CDL.
Under CGS § 14-44f, the state Department of Motor Vehicles cannot issue a CDL to a person who has a physical or psychobehavorial impairment that affects his ability to drive safely. In making its decisions, the department must follow the standards in the federal regulations. However, if the person is only going to drive in Connecticut, the provisions of state law apply. The state standards also require a driver to have 20/40 vision, either uncorrected or with corrective lenses.
A person can obtain a waiver from the CDL vision and other physical requirements under certain circumstances. The departments' Website http://dmvct.org/cvsmed.htm describes the process for obtaining a waiver.