DOT Proposes to Strengthen CDL Licensing Requirements, Sanctions
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed changes that would toughen licensing and sanctioning requirements for drivers of large trucks and buses.New licensing requirements proposed in the rulemaking include establishing a new school bus endorsement for CDL drivers, expanding the driver records check for CDL applicants to include all states where the driver was previously licensed to drive any type of vehicle, and prohibiting hardship licenses for CDL drivers who lose their privilege to drive.The proposed regulation also expands the number of offenses for which states must impose sanctions on CDL drivers who violate federal motor carrier safety regulations. These changes would add three new serious traffic violations to those that require the disqualification of CDL drivers convicted of a second or subsequent offense. The three new serious violations for drivers include driving a CMV without having obtained a CDL; driving without having a CDL in their possession; and not having met the minimum testing standards for the specific class CMV being operated or for the type of cargo being transported. The proposal also would require that drivers be disqualified after their first conviction of driving while suspended, driving while disqualified, or causing a fatality.The regulation would require for the first time that states send traffic violation information, when the violations result in a loss of driving privileges, to a driver's home state, and that this information be maintained on the driver's record. Under the proposed regulation, states also would be required to have a record of all violations committed by CDL drivers or drivers illegally operating a CMV. The proposal would prohibit states from masking a driver's convictions from the driver record.The proposed regulation would authorize FMCSA to make emergency grants to help states meet all CDL licensing standards.Recognizing that a state CDL program in substantial noncompliance with the FMCSRs could threaten highway safety, the proposal also would authorize FMCSA to withhold Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) funding from states that do not comply with CDL requirements. FMCSA would also be authorized to de-certify a state's ability to issue, transfer, or renew CDLs, although licenses issued by such states before de-certification would remain valid until the licenses' expiration dates. FMCSA proposed that states complying with CDL requirements be permitted to issue non-resident CDLs to drivers living in de-certified states.Under the proposed regulation, FMCSA would have the authority to disqualify, on an emergency basis, CDL drivers who pose an imminent hazard: drivers whose history shows they are most likely to be involved in a serious crash.The proposed regulation responds to requirements of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, which in turn amended the CMVSA and would apply to operators subject to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (CMVSA).Written comments on this notice of proposed rulemaking should be sent by Oct. 25, 2001, to the USDOT Docket Facility, Attn: Docket No. FMCSA-01-9709, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590-0001; FAX: 202-493-2251. The rule also is on the Internet and can be viewed after searching at: http://dms.dot.gov. Comments may be submitted electronically at http://dmses.dot.gov/submit.