UPS requests exemption for learner’s permit holders to operate doubles

February 24, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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UPS is asking the FMCSA for an exemption to allow its driver-trainees with commercial learner’s permits to operate twin 28-foot trailers on a public road.

The company’s exemption request is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on Tuesday, Feb. 25. UPS says the exemption is needed to allow its drivers to obtain behind-the-wheel skills training under the direct supervision of a driving instructor.

Federal regulations do not allow an employer to allow a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle during any period in which the driver does not have a commercial learner’s permit or a CDL with the proper class or endorsements. Regulations also do not permit a double- or triple-trailer endorsement on a commercial learner’s permit.

“UPS wants to ensure that its driver trainees know how to safely operate the vehicles they will actually be driving in UPS’ operations,” the company wrote in its request for exemption. “UPS’ fleet includes both single and double trailers, and its drivers are expected to be able to drive both. UPS currently is unable to include on the road doubles training in its initial driver training because … double endorsements are not allowed on commercial learner’s permits.”

UPS calls process inefficient

The company also said that the requirement for a driver to wait at least 14 days after obtaining a commercial learner’s permit before he or she can take a CDL test makes the process inefficient.

“As FMCSA no doubt is aware … depending on the state, it may take much more than 14 days for a driver to secure an appointment for the CDL skills test and obtain a CDL,” UPS wrote. “Therefore, weeks can pass between the time a driver receives his or her primary training and the time the driver is able to obtain on the road training or experience in doubles.

“In addition, after UPS driver trainees complete their formal training, they continue to improve their skills by operating UPS vehicles under the close supervision of certified instructors until they are able to obtain CDLs themselves. Under the regulations, this additional experience can only be gained on single trailers, even though doubles are integral to UPS’ day-to-day business. This situation is very inefficient, extends and breaks up training time, and creates a strain on UPS’ network and operations.”

According to UPS, the exemption would apply to about 1,000 driver trainees per year.

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“By granting the exemption, FMCSA therefore will help ensure that UPS drivers get specific, supervised on road skills training in doubles that otherwise would not be required by the regulations,” UPS wrote.

Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, FMCSA will accept comments on the exemption request for 30 days.

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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 nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.