Proposal eliminates CDL testing provision to ‘streamline process’

June 27, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a notice of proposed rulemaking on Thursday, June 27 that the agency said aims to streamline the process for commercial driver’s license applicants.

Current federal rules do not permit a CDL skills instructor who is also authorized by the state to administer the CDL skills test to perform both the instruction and the qualifying testing for the same applicant. FMCSA’s proposal would eliminate that restriction and give states the discretion to allow third-party trainers to conduct skills testing for the same individual.

“The Department is committed to reducing unnecessary barriers to employment for men and women interested in obtaining jobs in the trucking industry, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a news release.

FMCSA said the proposal is intended to give states greater flexibility and that it would alleviate testing delays and eliminate “needless inconvenience and expense” to the CDL applicant.

“We continue to examine opportunities to provide commonsense regulatory relief to states and individuals seeking to obtain a CDL,” FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez said.

In May 2011, FMCSA published a final rule amending the CDL knowledge and skills testing standards and establishing minimum commercial learner’s permit standards. The final rule included a provision prohibiting driver training schools from administering the CDL skills test to applicants who received skills training from that school, unless there was no skills testing alternative location within 50 miles of the school and an examiner did not train and test the same skills applicant.

At the time, FMCSA said the purpose of the provision was “to reduce both the opportunity for fraud and unintended bias in skills testing.”

After receiving petitions that said the provision was too restrictive, FMCSA revised the rule in 2013 to allow CDL training schools to test the applicants as long as the trainer didn’t administer the test.

In 2017, SAGE Trucking Schools recommended that FMCSA eliminate the provision, saying that state-based CDL testing compliance agencies have many other effective tools to prevent fraud, and that the rule is costly and inconvenient to third-party testers and applicants.

“FMCSA believes that the proposed change is appropriate because, as SAGE noted, there are other means of detecting and preventing fraud in CDL skills testing,” the notice of proposed rulemaking stated. “Third-party testing requires states utilize third-party testers to undertake a number of actions designed to ensure the integrity of the skills testing process.”

Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to submit comments. Comments may be submitted at Regulations.gov by using Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0292.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, staff writer, 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 nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.