FMCSA grants CRST request for student driver exemption

December 2018/January 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration renewed an exemption for CRST Expedited that allows the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based trucking company to have student drivers run team with a commercial driver’s license holder.

Current regulations require a CDL holder with the proper class and endorsements to be seated in the front while a commercial learner’s permit holder is driving on public roads or highways. The exemption allows student drivers who passed the skills test but have not yet received the CDL document to drive a CRST commercial motor vehicle accompanied by a CDL holder “who is not necessarily in the passenger seat.”

CRST’s previous exemption from the regulation was granted for two years on Sept. 23, 2016. The new exemption is effective for five years until Sept. 24, 2023.

CRST says the exemption allows the company to “foster a more productive and efficient training environment by allowing commercial learner’s permit holders to hone their recently acquired driving skills through on-the-job training and to begin earning an income right away. “

Through the end of 2017, CRST reported zero crashes to FMCSA involving drivers using the exemption.

FMCSA has granted similar exemptions to such fleets as C.R. England and New Prime.

OOIDA has spoken out against such exemptions.

“Why would FMCSA even consider this? The roads and traffic are bad enough already,” OOIDA member Jarrod Hough wrote during the public comment period. “Permit holders don’t have the experience to operate a commercial vehicle by themselves without the trainer sitting upfront and in the passenger seat. That is what a trainer is for, to teach and give guidance to the student, not to be in the sleeper berth while the student is left alone.” LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.