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Commercial Driver's License Standards: Application for Exemption; C.R. England, Inc.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  C.R. England

Commercial Driver's License Standards: Application for Exemption; C.R. England, Inc.

T.F. Scott Darling III
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
June 11, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 112 (Thursday, June 11, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33329-33331]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-14276]



[[Page 33329]]

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2014-0406]


Commercial Driver's License Standards: Application for Exemption; 
C.R. England, Inc.

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of final disposition; grant of application for 
exemption.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to grant C.R. England, Inc. (C.R. 
England) an exemption from the provisions in 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) that 
require a commercial learner's permit (CLP) holder to be accompanied by 
a commercial driver's license (CDL) holder with the proper CDL class 
and endorsements, seated in the front seat of the vehicle while the CLP 
holder performs behind-the-wheel training on public roads or highways. 
Under the terms and conditions of this exemption, a CLP holder who has 
documentation of passing the CDL skills test may drive a commercial 
motor vehicle for C.R. England without being accompanied by a CDL 
holder in the front seat. The exemption enables CLP holders to drive as 
part of a team and have the same regulatory flexibility that 49 CFR 383 
provides for C.R. England's team drivers with CDLs. C.R. England 
believes that the exemption will allow these drivers to operate in a 
way that benefits the driver, the carrier, and the economy as a whole 
without any detriment to safety.

DATES: The exemption is effective from 12:01 a.m., June 11, 2015 
through 11:59 p.m., June 12, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mrs. Pearlie Robinson, FMCSA Driver 
and Carrier Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle 
Safety Standards; Telephone: 202-366-4325. Email: MCPSD@dot.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments submitted to the notice requesting public comments on the 
exemption application, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit 
Room W12-140 on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday 
through Friday, except Federal holidays. The on-line Federal document 
management system is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. 
The docket number is listed at the beginning of this notice.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. FMCSA 
must publish a notice of each exemption request in the Federal Register 
(49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the public an opportunity 
to inspect the information relevant to the application, including any 
safety analyses that have been conducted. The Agency must also provide 
an opportunity for public comment on the request.
    The Agency reviews the safety analyses and the public comments, and 
determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a level 
of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of 
the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(b)) with the reason for the grant or denial, and, if granted, 
the specific person or class of persons receiving the exemption, and 
the regulatory provision or provisions from which exemption is granted. 
The notice must also specify the effective period of the exemption (up 
to 2 years), and explain the terms and conditions of the exemption. The 
exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Request for Exemption

    C.R. England is a carrier that transports temperature-sensitive 
freight. It provides CDL training for its drivers in partnership with 
Premier Truck Driving Schools in five locations (Burns Harbor, IN; 
Dallas, TX; Fontana, CA; Richmond, IN; and Salt Lake City, UT). C.R. 
England seeks an exemption from 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) that would allow 
CLP holders who have successfully passed a CDL skills test and are thus 
eligible to receive a CDL, to drive a truck without a CDL holder being 
present in the front seat. This would allow a CLP holder to participate 
in a revenue-producing trip back to his or her State of domicile to 
obtain the CDL document, as the CDL can only be issued by the State of 
domicile in accordance with Part 383.
    C.R. England advised that FMCSA is aware of the trucking industry's 
need for qualified and well-trained drivers to meet increasing shipping 
demands. C.R. England believes that 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) limits its 
ability to efficiently recruit, train, and employ new entrants to the 
industry. Prior to the implementation of section 385.25(a)(1), States 
routinely issued temporary CDLs to drivers who passed the CDL skills 
test. The temporary CDL allowed C.R. England time to route the new 
driver to his or her State of domicile to obtain the permanent CDL and 
place the new driver into an on-the-job training position with a 
driver-trainer. The driver-trainer supervised and observed the new 
driver, but was not required to be on-duty and in the front seat at all 
times. Thus, the new driver became productive immediately, allowing 
more freight movement for C.R. England and compensation for the new 
driver.
    C.R. England contends that compliance with the CDL rule prevents it 
from implementing more efficient operations. The rule places C.R. 
England in the untenable position of either sending the CLP holder home 
without having hired him or her (because the person does not yet have a 
CDL) with no assurance that the driver will remain with C. R. England 
after obtaining the CDL; or, hiring the CLP holder and sending him or 
her home in an unproductive non-driving capacity. Granting the 
exemption would allow the CLP holder to drive as part of a team on that 
trip, resulting in reduced costs and increased productivity.
    C.R. England asserts that the exemption would be consistent with 
the Agency's comments in the preamble to the final rule adopting Sec.  
383.25 that ``FMCSA does not believe that it is safe to permit 
inexperienced drivers who have not passed the CDL skills test to drive 
unaccompanied.'' (76 FR 26854, 26861 May 9, 2011). The exemption sought 
would apply only to those C.R. England drivers who have passed the CDL 
skills test and hold a CLP. C.R. England believes that the exemption 
would result in a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than 
the level of safety provided under the rule. The only difference 
between a CLP holder who has passed the CDL skills test and a CDL 
holder is that the latter has received the actual CDL from a State 
Driver Licensing Agency.

Public Comments

    On November 28, 2014, FMCSA published notice of this application 
and requested public comment (79 FR 70916). The Agency received 274 
comments representing various transportation interests in response to 
the proposed exemption. Eleven comments received in support of the 
exemption were from AAA School of Trucking; American Trucking 
Associations (ATA); C.R. England; Katlaw Truck Driving Schools; U.S. 
Truck Driver Training School, Inc.; Utah Trucking Association; an 
anonymous truck driver training school; and four individuals. Among the 
257

[[Page 33330]]

respondents opposing the exemption were Advocates for Highway and Auto 
Safety (Advocates); American Association of Motor Vehicle 
Administrators (AAMVA); Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA); 
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA); Apex CDL 
Institute; and individual drivers and driver trainees. The Commercial 
Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) and the California Trucking 
Association (CTA) were among 6 respondents who did not indicate 
opposition or support for the exemption. CVTA commented that before 
considering C.R. England's exemption, the FMCSA must first clarify its 
regulations regarding issuance of a CDL. The CTA submitted a petition 
for an exemption to allow States the option to waive the domicile 
requirements in 49 CFR 383.25(a)(2), 383.71(a)(2)(vi), and 384.212.
    AAA School of Trucking commented that ``As a licensing center, we 
see graduates all the time waiting for the plastic license to be 
issued, when they are ready to drive. The extensiveness of the 
training, which in our case is thorough regardless of licensing 
concerns, still is irrelevant to the issue at hand.''
    The ATA commented that ``Because such drivers have already 
successfully passed both knowledge and skills tests, they could be 
presumed to have demonstrated safety performance equally as safe as a 
driver holding a CDL. Only formalities in the drivers' state of 
domicile prevent the driver from already holding such a credential. 
Therefore, ATA encourages FMCSA to grant the proposed exemption.''
    C.R. England commented that ``The exemption is not seeking a 
reprieve from any testing or training standards, but instead is seeking 
to allow qualified drivers to begin providing for their families rather 
than having to cut through unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. 
Additionally, if the FMCSA believes that this exemption is more easily 
and consistently enforced if the exemption applies to all similarly 
situated drivers, C.R. England would support broadening the exemption 
request.''
    Katlaw Truck Driving Schools commented that ``All they are asking 
is that an out of state candidate who passes the skills test is allowed 
to go to work immediately as a licensed driver in the same way that an 
in state candidate can.''
    Utah Trucking Association commented that ``The exemption is merely 
seeking to eliminate red tape and inefficiency.''
    An anonymous respondent commented by stating ``I do not see a 
reason why this exemption would not only be granted to C.R. England, 
but to any other individual or carrier that is similarly situated.''
    Mr. Matthew Crawford commented that ``I support the exemption 
providing the company has a strong documentation in safety and 
compliance department.''
    Advocates, AAMVA, APEX CDL Institute, CVSA, and OOIDA opposed the 
exemption. The remaining 252 comments in opposition were from truck 
drivers, truck driver-trainers, and individuals. These respondents do 
not believe that it is safe for a CLP holder to operate a CMV without 
the supervision of a CDL driver-trainer in the front seat of the truck.
    Advocates commented that ``When a CDL holder is not in the front 
seat of the truck observing the actions of the CLP holder, the driver 
cannot provide the supervision as required by the federal regulation. 
When not present in the front seat of the vehicle, the CDL holder is 
not focused on the task of driving and cannot give the CLP holder 
critical insight and advice specific to situations encountered by the 
CLP holder during the trip. This type of unique guidance is invaluable 
in teaching and training novice drivers, forming good driving habits 
and can help prevent a crash.''
    APEX CDL Institute commented that ``It has nothing to do with CRE's 
shortage of drivers . . . it has everything to do with their running a 
driver program consisting of indentured servants and their desire to 
maintain control over them.''
    AAMVA recommended that ``FMCSA not grant this exemption under the 
determination that such an exemption would not achieve a level of 
safety equivalent to the level that would be achieved by current 
FMCSRs.'' ``AAMVA feels that any additional documentation requirements 
would contribute to substantial cost being borne by the states, 
additional administrative burden in issuing documentation to satisfy 
the return trip to the State of domicile, and open the commercial 
transportation network up to additional instances of document fraud.''
    CVSA summarized its opposition to the exemption by stating that 
``granting yet another regulatory exception only serves to confound law 
enforcement and industry's understanding of the rules. Every exception 
and change to regulations requires additional training for inspectors, 
resulting in the potential for a higher level of confusion surrounding 
the applicability of the regulations.''
    OOIDA stated that ``OOIDA, as a general policy, does not believe 
FMCSA should exempt large motor carriers from the agency's CDL 
training-related regulations.'' OOIDA further stated that ``Given the 
open nature of FMCSA's driver training rulemaking, it is certainly 
conceivable that the issues raised by CRE in its exemption request 
could be considered under that process, along with the broad scope of 
issues covered under the process by which a new driver obtains a CDL.''
    Mr. Roy Moore wrote that ``I think this proposal would be a grave 
mistake. As a 27+ year driver I'd say putting someone with No practical 
experience on the road without a trainer is a terrible mistake.''
    Mr. Brian Riker, a former CDL examiner argued that ``It is not 
advisable to allow a CDL permit holder to operate a vehicle without 
direct, front seat supervision. This is a basic design function 
incorporated since the inception of the CDL program. When you reduce 
this to the most basic level, CR England wishes to have their 
``trainer'' on their break in the sleeper berth, sleeping, so they may 
be ready to drive when the student has run their hours out. How can 
that be construed as training if the instructor is sleeping or 
otherwise occupied and not directly observing and correcting the 
students behavior?'' All comments are available for review in the 
docket for this notice.

FMCSA Response and Decision

    The premise of respondents opposing the exemption is that CLP 
holders lack experience and are safer drivers when observed by a CDL 
driver-trainer who is on duty and in the front seat of the vehicle. The 
fact is that CLP holders who have passed the CDL skills test are 
qualified and eligible to obtain a CDL. If these CLP holders had 
obtained their training and CLPs in their State of domicile, they could 
immediately obtain their CDL at the State driver licensing agency and 
begin driving a CMV without any on-board supervision. There is no 
quantitative data or other information that having a CDL holder 
accompany a CLP holder who has passed the skills test improves safety. 
Because these drivers have passed the CDL skills test, the only thing 
necessary to obtain the CDL is to apply at the Department of Motor 
Vehicles in their State of domicile.
    FMCSA has evaluated C.R. England's application for exemption and 
the public comments. The Agency believes that C.R. England's overall 
safety performance as reflected in its

[[Page 33331]]

``satisfactory'' safety rating, will enable it to achieve a level of 
safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety 
achieved without the exemption (49 CFR 381.305(a)). The exemption is 
restricted to C.R. England's CLP holders who have documentation that 
they have passed the CDL skills test. The exemption will enable these 
drivers to operate a CMV as a team driver without requiring the 
accompanying CDL holder be on duty and in the front seat while the 
vehicle is moving.

Terms and Conditions of the Exemption

Period of the Exemption

    This exemption from the requirements of 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) is 
effective during the period of June 11, 2015 through June 12, 2017. The 
exemption will expire on June 12, 2017, 11:59 p.m. local time, unless 
renewed.

Extent of the Exemption

    The exemption is contingent upon C.R. England maintaining USDOT 
registration, minimum levels of public liability insurance, and not 
being subject to any ``imminent hazard'' or other out-of-service (OOS) 
order issued by FMCSA. Each driver covered by the exemption must 
maintain a valid driver's license and CLP with the required 
endorsements, not be subject to any OOS order or suspension of driving 
privileges, and meet all physical qualifications required by 49 CFR 
part 391.

Preemption

    During the period this exemption is in effect, no State may enforce 
any law or regulation that conflicts with or is inconsistent with the 
exemption with respect to a person or entity operating under the 
exemption (49 U.S.C. 31315(d)).

FMCSA Accident Notification

    C.R. England must notify FMCSA within 5 business days of any 
accidents (as defined by 49 CFR 390.5) involving the operation of any 
of its CMVs while utilizing this exemption. The notification must be by 
email to MCPSD@DOT.GOV, and include the following information:
    a. Date of the accident,
    b. City or town, and State, in which the accident occurred, or 
which is closest to the scene of the accident,
    c. Driver's name and driver's license number,
    d. Vehicle number and State license number,
    e. Number of individuals suffering physical injury,
    f. Number of fatalities,
    g. The police-reported cause of the accident,
    h. Whether the driver was cited for violation of any traffic laws, 
or motor carrier safety regulations, and
    i. The total driving time and the total on-duty time of the CMV 
driver at the time of the accident.

Termination

    The FMCSA does not believe the CLP-holders covered by the exemption 
will experience any deterioration of their safety record. However, 
should this occur, FMCSA will take all steps necessary to protect the 
public interest, including revocation of the exemption. The FMCSA will 
immediately revoke the exemption for failure to comply with its terms 
and conditions.

    Issued on: June 3, 2015.
T.F. Scott Darling, III,
Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2015-14276 Filed 6-10-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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