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Driver Qualifications: Skill Performance Evaluation; Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles; Exemption Renewal for Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Driver Qualifications: Skill Performance Evaluation; Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles; Exemption Renewal for Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

T.F. Scott Darling, III
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
8 July 2016


[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 131 (Friday, July 8, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 44674-44675]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-16197]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2013-0147]


Driver Qualifications: Skill Performance Evaluation; Virginia 
Department of Motor Vehicles; Exemption Renewal for Virginia Department 
of Motor Vehicles

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

ACTION: Notice of renewal of exemption; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to renew the Virginia Department 
of Motor Vehicles (DMV) exemption on behalf of truck and bus drivers 
who are licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia and need a Skill 
Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate from FMCSA to operate 
commercial motor vehicles (CMV) in interstate commerce. The exemption 
enables interstate CMV drivers who are licensed in Virginia and are 
subject to the Federal SPE requirements under 49 CFR 391.49 to continue 
to fulfill the Federal requirements with a State-issued SPE and to 
operate CMVs in interstate commerce anywhere in the United States.

DATES: This decision is effective July 9, 2016, and will expire July 9, 
2018, and may be renewed. Comments must be received on or before August 
9, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket 
Management System (FDMS) number FMCSA-2013-0147 by any of the following 
methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery: Ground Floor, Room W12-140, DOT Building, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 
E.D.T., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
    Instructions: Each submission must include the Agency name and 
docket number for this notice. Please note that all comments received 
will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including 
any personal information provided. Please see the ``Privacy Act'' 
heading for further information.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or to Room W12-140, 
DOT Building, New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 
5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The FDMS is 
available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. If you want 
acknowledgement that we received your comments, please include a self-
addressed, stamped envelope or postcard or print the acknowledgement 
page that appears after submitting comments on-line.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information 
the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS) which can be reviewed at 
www.dot.gov/privacy.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Eileen Nolan, Office of Carrier, 
Driver and Vehicle Safety, Medical Programs Division, (202) 366-4001, 
fmcsamedical@dot.gov, FMCSA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 
20590-0001. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    Under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA may grant an exemption 
from certain parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs) for a 2-year period if it finds ``such exemption would likely 
achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than the 
level that would be achieved absent such exemption.'' The statute 
allows the Agency to renew exemptions at the end of the 2-year period.
    On July 8, 2014, FMCSA granted Virginia a 2-year exemption that 
enables interstate CMV drivers licensed in Virginia who are subject to 
the Federal SPE requirements under 49 CFR 391.49 to fulfill the Federal 
requirements with a State-issued SPE (79 FR 38659). The requirements of 
the exemption were outlined in this notice and will therefore not be 
repeated. Virginia has established its own SPE program that is 
essentially identical to the current FMCSA SPE program to include an 
application process modeled on the FMCSA process. In addition, State 
personnel who have completed SPE training identical to that of FMCSA 
personnel currently administer the SPE program and conduct the skill

[[Page 44675]]

evaluation according to the same procedures and testing criteria used 
by FMCSA. If the driver passes the skill evaluation, the State issues 
the SPE certificate. Virginia maintains records of applications, 
testing, and certificates issued, which are available, as required, for 
periodic review by FMCSA. On behalf of CMV drivers licensed in the 
Commonwealth of Virginia, the State requested renewal of the exemption 
from 49 CFR 391.49 concerning FMCSA's SPE certificate process for 
drivers who have experienced an impairment or loss of a limb.

II. Basis for Renewing Exemption

    The Agency's decision regarding this exemption is based on the fact 
that Virginia's SPE program is essentially identical to the current 
FMCSA program. Virginia continues to adhere to the application process 
modeled on the FMCSA process. State personnel who conduct the skill 
evaluation complete the same training as FMCSA personnel conducting the 
test and follow the same procedures and testing criteria used by FMCSA. 
FMCSA has conducted ongoing monitoring and onsite SPE program reviews 
and Virginia continues to maintain records of applications, testing, 
and certificates issued for periodic review by FMCSA. At the time 
Virginia DMV submitted its request for exemption renewal to the Agency, 
it had issued 13 new and 25 renewal SPE certificates. Based upon 
FMCSA's analyses of the applications and the program as a whole, FMCSA 
has determined that no safety vulnerabilities are associated with 
Virginia's renewal request. The renewal of the exemption is granted.
    Consequently, FMCSA has concluded that renewing the exemption 
allows the Virginia SPE program to achieve the level of safety required 
by 49 U.S.C. 31315.
    If a Virginia-licensed driver would prefer not to opt for the 
streamlined SPE process, the driver may still apply for an FMCSA-issued 
SPE. However, FMCSA may still exercise its discretion and call upon 
Virginia DMV to provide assistance in conducting the road evaluation 
needed to complete an SPE application, depending on the volume of 
applications.

 III. Terms and Conditions

    The FMCSA grants the renewal of the exemption to allow the Virginia 
DMV to conduct SPE's on drivers who have experienced an impairment or 
loss of a limb and are licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The 
following terms and conditions apply to the State and any drivers who 
receive a State-issued SPE certificate:
     Virginia must establish and maintain its own SPE program 
that is essentially identical to the current FMCSA program.
     The State must maintain an application process modeled on 
the FMCSA process and submit information concerning the application 
process to FMCSA's Medical Programs Division for review, as required.
     State personnel who conduct the skill test must complete 
SPE training identical to that of FMCSA personnel currently 
administering the Federal SPE program.
     The skill evaluation and scoring for the SPE must be done 
using the same procedures and testing criteria used by FMCSA.
     Virginia must maintain records of applications, testing, 
and certificates issued for periodic review by FMCSA.
     Virginia must submit a monthly report to FMCSA listing the 
names and license number of each driver tested by the State and the 
result of the test (pass or fail).
     Each driver who receives a State-issued SPE must carry a 
copy of the certificate when driving for presentation to authorized 
Federal, State, or local law enforcement officials.

IV. Preemption of State Laws and Regulations

    An exemption granted under the authority of 49 U.S.C. 31315(b) 
preempts State laws and regulations that conflict with or are 
inconsistent with the exemption. The decision to grant Virginia's 
request amounts to automatic Federal ratification of the State issued 
SPE certificate and therefore prohibits other jurisdictions from 
requiring a separate FMCSA-issued SPE. The State-issued certificate 
must be treated as if it had been issued by FMCSA. Virginia-licensed 
drivers who receive the State-issued SPE are allowed to operate CMVs in 
interstate commerce anywhere in the United States.

V. Request for Comments

    Interested parties possessing information that would otherwise show 
that granting this exemption is not achieving the statutory level of 
safety should immediately notify FMCSA. The Agency will evaluate any 
adverse evidence summited, and if safety is being compromised or if 
continuation of exemption would not be consistent with the goals and 
objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315, FMCSA will take immediate 
steps to revoked the Virginia DMV exemption.

VI. Conclusion

    The Agency does not intend its decision to pressure other States to 
take action to implement State-run SPE programs. Virginia is the first 
State to submit an application on behalf of its drivers to provide an 
alternative to the Federal SPE process. Other States are welcome to 
make similar applications if they believe it is appropriate to do so 
and they have the resources to meet terms and conditions comparable to 
those provided in this exemption.

    Issued on: June 29, 2016.
 T.F. Scott Darling, III,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2016-16197 Filed 7-7-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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