FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 9, 2022
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / firstname.lastname@example.org / 301-442-2249 (C)
Statement of Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Actions on Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Testing Rules
Today the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) withdrew the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued in 2019 which would have allowed states to permit a third-party skills test examiner to administer the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) skills test to applicants to whom an examiner also had provided training. This practice is currently prohibited under FMCSA regulations. In doing so, the Agency affirmed the commonsense notion that CDL applicants should not be tested by the same people who provide their training. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) commends the Agency for scrapping this dangerous proposal which would have threatened the integrity of the licensing system for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.
As the Agency previously noted in a 2017 report required by Congress, a number of states do not permit third party testing due to the potential for fraud. Allowing a trainer to test their own student would have imprudently increased these valid concerns.
Advocates also agrees with FMCSA’s decision to withdraw a NPRM issued in 2019 which would have allowed CDL applicants to take their knowledge test outside of the state where they reside. Even though this proposal was withdrawn for logistical reasons, the safety implications are clear. A system in which CDL applicants are permitted to essentially shop for less rigorous testing options endangers all road users by potentially greenlighting drivers who are not competent to drive an 80,000-pound vehicle safely.
In addition to withdrawing these two proposals, the FMCSA also should immediately rescind its revised guidance permitting third parties to administer knowledge tests to candidates and the current exemption permitting a state to administer a driving skills test to any out-of-state applicant.
Advocates and leading public health, consumer and safety organizations, as well as truck crash victims and survivors are similarly opposed to efforts in Congress to undermine current federal regulations for testing and training commercial drivers. One such proposal, the LICENSE Act of 2022 (H.R. 6567 / S.3556), weakens and removes important safeguards for obtaining a CDL and would result in unsafe and unqualified drivers on our highways. Further, teenagers, who have higher crash rates and need extensive training to safely drive passenger motor vehicles, should not be permitted to operate CMVs in interstate commerce, a provision included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58).
Nearly 5,000 people were killed and almost 147,000 were injured in crashes involving a large truck in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All motor vehicle crash fatalities reached their highest level since 2007. Truck driving is one of the most dangerous professions in the U.S. In this exceedingly hazardous roadway environment, policy makers should be advancing proven solutions to enhance large truck safety. Today’s actions by the FMCSA ended two ill-conceived and unsafe proposals. Advocates looks forward to additional actions by the Agency to address the preventable carnage experienced on our streets and highways.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America’s roads safer. Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.