FMCSA denies Florida agency’s exemption from CDL testing rules

April 18, 2024

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied a Florida agency’s request for an exemption from a portion of the CDL skills test regulations.

FMCSA published a notice of denial on Thursday, April 18.

In December, FMCSA published an exemption request from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles regarding the test order. The regulations require that the three-part CDL skills test be administered and successfully completed in the following order: pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control skills and on-road skills.

The Florida agency asked FMCSA to allow applicants who fail the pre-trip inspection or basic vehicle controls segments of the CDL test to move on to the next portion of the test and return at a later date to retake the failed segments. The exemption would increase efficiency and not compromise safety, the Florida agency wrote in its request.

After opening the request to public comment, FMCSA elected to decline the request.

“After reviewing the application and the comments submitted to the docket, the agency has determined the record does not show that granting the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent the exemption,” FMCSA wrote in the notice.

FMCSA received 30 comments with 19 opposed, eight in support and three with no position.

Opponents said the regulations were created that way for a reason.

“The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, along with the FMCSA, has done its research into the methodology behind why the tests are performed the way they are,” Tim Kordula wrote in the comments. “An applicant failing the pre-trip and then being allowed to continue is not only unsafe but irresponsible.”

Truck driver Gary Adler told FMCSA it should be focused on improving the quality of new CDL holders.

“As a truck driver owner-operator for 50 years, my concern is that new drivers are already being put into service before they are ready,” Adler wrote. “If they cannot pass the pre-trip instruction part of the course, how will they be able to operate a Class 8 vehicle safely? The first step to safely operating this equipment is knowing it is ready for the road … Let’s stick to the basics and not cut corners.”

Proponents used claims of a driver shortage as a reason FMCSA should grant the exemption.

“By allowing applicants to only retest failed portions, there will be an increase in the efficiency of the CDL credentialing process,” the National Tank Truck Carriers wrote. “Therefore, testers will have to devote less time and resources to areas in which drivers have already demonstrated their competency. The exemption request put forward by FLHSMV does not compromise roadway safety. Given the well-documented commercial driver shortage, it is imperative that we reduce barriers to individuals attaining the proper credentials for operating commercial vehicles.”

However, multiple studies have indicated there is not a driver shortage.

Even more, the Wall Street Journal reported this week that trucking is struggling with overcapacity. LL