Comment period on Werner exemption request nears end

September 16, 2021

Land Line Staff

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Werner Enterprises wants an exemption from a regulation that requires a commercial learner’s permit holder to be accompanied by a CDL holder in the passenger seat. The deadline for the public to comment on the trucking company’s exemption request is Friday, Sept. 17.

Last month, Werner cited a “historic driver shortage” in its reasoning for why an exemption is needed.

If granted, the exemption would apply only to permit holders who have already passed the CDL skills test but have not yet obtained the CDL document from their home state. The CDL holder also would have to remain in the vehicle but would not be required to sit in the front seat.

“Werner contends that an exemption from this regulation will benefit Werner and the trucking industry in three ways – improving efficiency of freight operations by maximizing driver employment during a historic driver shortage, creating immediate employment and compensation opportunities to qualified drivers, and improving the overall safety of the new driver experience,” the FMCSA notice stated. “Werner believes it will face a significant burden in all three areas if this exemption is not granted.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has refuted claims of a driver shortage for years, saying the issue has more to do with driver turnover problems because of low pay and poor working conditions. The Association points to turnover rates of large carriers being at 90% or more.

Some of the comments already posted to the docket back up OOIDA’s arguments.

“Werner does not need this exemption,” wrote Shadi Ahmad. “It’s already too easy to obtain a CDL, and this will lead to even less driver training. The reasons Werner are claiming are unfounded. Smaller companies who pay their drivers better keep their drivers longer. Werner is only looking to circumvent the rules that should apply to everyone. Especially Werner rather than exempting Werner.”

To comment, go to the Regulations.gov website by Sept. 17 and enter FMCSA-2021-0018.

Previous exemptions

The FMCSA has granted similar exemptions to companies including Wilson Logistics, CRST and CR England.

When it granted Wilson Logistics’ exemption request earlier this year, FMCSA said it expected an equivalent level of safety to be achieved.

“Because these drivers have already met all the requirements for a CDL but have yet to pick up the CDL document from their state of domicile, their safety performance is expected to be the same as any other newly credentialed CDL holder,” FMCSA wrote. LL

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