FMCSA Proposes Steps to Ease Truck Driver Shortage

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in June 2017 issued two proposals aimed at responding to a national shortage of qualified truck and bus drivers. The proposed processes would simplify obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for many individuals and reduce administrative expenses for both the driver applicant and state driver licensing agencies.

FMCSA is seeking public comment on the two following Notices of Proposed Rulemakings (NPRM): Military Licensing and State CDL Reciprocity would allow state driver licensing agencies to waive the CDL knowledge test for qualified veterans and active duty personnel, including National Guard and reserves, seek- ing to obtain a civilian CDL. This waiver would simplify processing and reduce costs for states and for all qualified individuals. Since 2012, FMCSA has allowed states to waive the CDL skill test requirement for qualified veterans and active duty personnel. More than 18,000 individuals have transitioned from their military service to U.S. civilian jobs as commercial truck and bus drivers under the waiver opportunity.

“We owe so much to our men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces,” said FMCSA deputy administrator Daphne Jefferson. “This action would be one more way we can express our gratitude and assist those with a military CDL who wish to utilize their extensive training and experience operating heavy trucks and buses into careers as civilians.”

The second proposed rule, Commercial Learner’s Permit Validity, would allow states to issue a CDL learner’s permit with an expiration date of up to one year, replacing the current six-month limitation. This extra flexibilty would eliminate burdensome and costly paperwork requirements by states. It would also eliminate unnecessary retesting presently incurred by individuals who seek an additional 180-day renewal of their CDL learner’s permit.

“Taken together, these two proposals will help ease the entry for thousands of qualified individuals into career opportunities as professional truck and bus drivers—a critical occupation facing an acute labor shortage in our country,” Jefferson said. “We could eliminate unnecessary burdens to both the applicants and to the states, save time, reduce costs and, most importantly, ensure that states only issue commercial driver’s licenses to well- trained, highly qualified individuals.” She added that at the core of both proposals is safety of the motoring public. “We will continue to demand that commercial truck and bus drivers, and their employers, adhere to the safety standards that exist to protect all drivers.”

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, July 10, 2017)