Daimler wins drug testing exemption for test drivers

April 27, 2022

Land Line Staff


Daimler Trucks North America has recently won an exemption from driver regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but a Mexican bus company’s request has been denied.

Daimler’s exemption

Daimler was granted an exemption for nine drivers to forego a full or limited query on the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

All the drivers have valid German commercial vehicle driver’s licenses. All are involved in field testing trucks as the company develops vehicle safety systems and emission reductions, according to a notice published April 27 to the Federal Register.

“Daimler explained that the drivers are familiar with the operation of (commercial motor vehicles) worldwide and would be accompanied at all times by a driver who holds a state-issued CDL and is familiar with the routes to be traveled,” the FMCSA said in its published comments.

Under this exemption, the Daimler drivers would not be subject to the drug and alcohol testing requirements. They must comply with all other regulations.

Daimler also agreed to implement a corporate drug and alcohol testing program substantially equivalent to Clearinghouse standards.

Bus company request denied

The Tornado Bus Co. had requested that its Mexico-licensed commercial bus drivers be granted an exemption from entry-level driving training requirements to get a CDL passenger endorsement.

The drivers were seeking permanent resident status in the U.S. and have more than two years’ experience driving in the U.S. and Mexico, according to a notice published April 27 in the Federal Register.

As of Feb. 7, entry-level driver training is required for not only individuals applying for a CDL for the first time but also for upgrading from Class B to Class A CDL or obtaining a passenger, school bus or hazardous material endorsement for the first time. The entry-level driver training must address skills and knowledge training.

“Tornado requested the exemption because it is experiencing a shortage of qualified drivers to support its operation, with adverse effects on its finances,” FMCSA wrote.

However, the bus company did not provide details on how much experience the drivers had operating in the U.S. such as whether it was for more than a day or not, FMCSA noted.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters objected to the exemption request.

“Tornado offers no specifics like the number of hours of in-classroom training it offers its drivers hired in the U.S., other than stating what subjects it includes in its training,” the Teamsters commented. “Tornado’s application for exemption contains no safety analysis and it states that its operation ‘is significantly affected financially’ once their drivers obtain permanent residence status due to the time consumption to process their CDL.

“Financial considerations should never outweigh safety.”

FMCSA Deputy Administrator Robin Hutcheson signed the exemption rejection, citing the applicant’s failure to provide specific information on the content or rigor of the training the bus company provided its drivers. LL

In March, FMCSA granted two exemptions from federal regulations: