(1) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) establishing minimum training requirements for Entry-Level Drivers Published on Monday, March 7.
On Monday, March 7 the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) establishing minimum training requirements for Entry Level Drivers. The NPRM will require all future driver trainees for Class A & B CDLs, and certain endorsements, to complete a structured training program from a training provider registered and approved by the FMCSA. Each approved provider's program must teach curriculum topics as outlined in the NPRM, and teach range and road behind the wheel (BTW) portions prior to sitting for the CDL skills exam. While the BTW portion requires a minimum of 30 BTW hours, each student is ultimately judged on their individual performance or outcome by a certified BTW instructor. Therefore, while some students will be able to execute specific skills within this time frame, others will not. As such, the school and instructor will certify a student only when he or she is able to demonstrate the necessary skills proficiency.
CVTA schools are already teaching the required subjects and teaching more BTW hours than required by this NPRM. While this rule will have little to no impact on CVTA schools or other quality training programs, which maintain high standards, this NPRM is a win for safety and for quality training providers. We believe that requiring all future CDL holders to have training as outlined in this NPRM, will make our highways safer. We will be doing all that we can to ensure the NPRM is finalized in the form as written and agreed to by all 26 members of the ELDTAC. If you are thinking about commenting or have any questions about this proposed rule, please contact CVTA staff. To view the notice in its entirety, please click here.
(2) Notice of Application for Exemption from Bond Requirement for Third-Party CDL Testers Submitted by Idaho Transportation Department Published on Wednesday, March 9.
On Wednesday, March 9, FMCSA published a notice and request for comments regarding an application for exemption from the FMCSA’s requirement that Third-Party CDL Testers initiate and maintain a bond in an amount determined by the state. This bond is meant to cover the costs of any re-testing of drivers should the third party tester or any of its examiners be found to have been involved in fraudulent activities related to conducting CDL skills tests. This application for exemption was submitted by the Idaho Transportation Department (IDT). The IDT argues, among other things, that this bond obligation creates an unnecessary financial hardship in light of the fact that their Third-Party CDL examiners only conduct a few CDL tests each month and earn only $60 per test. ITD also notes that the State of Idaho’s Third-Party Testing organizations have had no instances of fraud. ITD also notes that it continues to use the Commercial Skills Test Management System (CSTIMS) to monitor CDL skills test examiners. Comments must be submitted on or before April 8, 2016. To view this notice in its entirety, click here.
(3) Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regarding Obstructive Sleep Apnea Published on Thursday, March 10.
On Thursday, March 10, the FMCSA (in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration) also published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which it requests data and information regarding (1) the prevalence of moderate-to-severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in highway and rail transportation and (2) the potential consequences of OSA’s prevalence for the safety of rail and highway transportation.
As many of you know, there has been enormous confusion surrounding how medical examiners should screen drivers for OSA. This confusion has caused countless healthy drivers to pay hundreds of dollars for additional OSA tests – and to have their licenses revoked or suspended absent their ability to pay for these tests.
The publication of this advanced rulemaking marks the first step towards creating a sleep apnea rule for the trucking industry which could clarify this ongoing confusion. Comments regarding this rule must be submitted on or before June 8, 2016. To read the notice in its entirety, click here.
(4) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend its Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) regulations for certain military personnel.
On March 16, the FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which proposes to extend the time period for applying for a skills test waiver from 90 days to 1 year after leaving a military position requiring the operation of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV).
The FMCSA believes this NPRM would ease the current burdens on military personnel applying for CLPs and CDLs issued by a State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) in accordance with 49 CFR parts 383 and 384 in two ways. First, it would extend the time in which former military personnel are allowed to apply for a skills test waiver from the 90 days currently allowed by 49 CFR 383.77 to 1 year. On July 8, 2014, FMCSA issued a temporary exemption under 49 CFR part 381 that extended the skills test waiver to 1 year [79 FR 38659].  The change proposed by this rulemaking would make the 1-year waiver period permanent. Second, this NPRM would allow States to accept applications and administer all necessary tests for a CLP or CDL from active duty service members stationed in that State who are operating in a Military Occupational Specialty as full-time CMV drivers. States that choose to exercise this option would be required to transmit the application and test results electronically to the service member's State of domicile. This would enable service members to complete their licensing requirements without incurring the time and expense of returning home. The State of domicile would be required to issue the CLP or CDL in accordance with otherwise applicable procedures.
Comments are due on or before May 16, 2016. To read the notice in its entirety, click here.