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NLA Supports Proposal to Allow States to Permit Third-Party Skills Test Examiner to Administer CDL

Wednesday, July 31, 2019   (0 Comments)
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August 5, 2019

 

Mr. Raymond P. Martinez

Administrator

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building

Washington, DC 20590–0001

 

RE: Docket ID FMCSA–2018–0292

 

Dear Administrator Martinez:

 

                The National Limousine Association (“NLA”) supports the proposal to allow states to permit a third-party skills test examiner to administer the commercial driver’s license (“CDL”) skills tests to applicants to whom the examiner has also provided skills training. NLA agrees with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) logic that this option could help alleviate CDL skill testing delays and reduce inconveniences and costs for third-party testers and CDL applicants without negatively impacting safety.

                The pre-arranged ground transportation industry faces a driver shortage. This proposal resolves part of the driver shortage crisis by directly addressing the nationwide backlog for CDL testing in a time when the transportation industry is searching for solutions to the driver shortage. Permitting States to allow a third-party skills test examiner who is also a skills instructor to administer the CDL skills test to an applicant who received skills training from that examiner will reduce testing delays and improve how quickly a driver could be hired.

                FMCSA regulations currently prohibit a third-party skills instructor from administering the CDL skills test to an applicant who received skills training from that examiner. See 49 CFR 383.75(a)(7). FMCSA should eliminate this restriction, which causes significant inconvenience and cost for third party testers, CDL applicants, the transportation industry, and the public. This restriction makes hiring CDL examiners more expensive and delays issuance of CDLs without increasing road safety.

                FMCSA originally adopted the restriction “to reduce both the opportunity for fraud and unintended bias in skills testing.” 76 FR 26869 (May 9, 2011). The restriction, which creates hardship for States, increases costs for CDL training schools and motor carriers, and further delays CDL issuances, is unnecessary because many other tools exist to detect and prevent fraud in CDL skills testing. Third party examiners are already required to undertake several actions that ensure the integrity of the skills testing process. State employees covertly take the skills tests, State employees co-score CDL applicants during the skills test to compare results, among other compliance requirements, such as FMCSA annual performance reviews to correct deficiencies in skills testing administration. All these practices demonstrate that there are currently multiple means of detecting and preventing fraud in CDL skills testing, making § 383.75(a)(7) redundant in and unnecessary to fraud prevention.

                NLA believes removing the restriction on third-party examiners will speed up CDL issuing. In certain states, a CDL applicant has the option of taking a general knowledge test, passenger endorsement, and air brakes endorsement written test at their local branch DMV. When a CDL applicant passes the written test, they are then subject to at least a 10-day waiting period to take the skills test. Failing the skills test means waiting another 90-day period before an opportunity to retake the exam. Other states only offer CDL skills tests at state DOT license stations, rather than more accessible county locations. Skills tests often involve cumbersome scheduling processes with limited availability for testing. These limitations are directly related to the current restriction on examiners.

                For all of these reasons, NLA strongly supports removal of the restriction on examiners in § 383.75(a)(7) and urges FMCSA to move forward with finalizing the proposal without delay.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Gary Buffo

President, National Limousine Association


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