Carrier Gains Exemption from Licensing Rule
Trucking regulations are usually the same throughout the entire industry, with some slight alterations being made depending on the size of the carrier, the type of vehicle, and the amount of freight being hauled.
Rules for drivers are usually enforced on a stringent basis, with few exemptions being given out on the most basic rules. For one carrier, this has changed. New Prime, a company that is part of National Fleet Inc., has been granted an exemption to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s requirements on CDL licensing.
The company will now be allowed to have pre-CDL drivers who have passed a skills test pilot rigs in team operations.
According to the FMCSA, drivers who have passed the skills test and have a commercial learner’s permit may now pilot rigs as long as a licensed driver is in the vehicle. The driver does not have to be in the front seat, and this has been the source of controversy for the change.
Some safety advocates claim this rule makes things less safe on the roadways, as drivers who have never completed a proper road test may be unequipped to deal with certain hazards. And while having a licensed driver inside the same vehicle certainly helps things, the fact that the driver is not required to supervise the permit holder directly could lead to some dangerous situations on the road.
The FMCSA countered this opposition, claiming that CLP holders who have passed their skills test are already eligible to receive their CDL, and those who had completed their training in their home state would likely already have the proper licensing to drive without supervision.
According to data obtained by the agency, there is no credible conclusion about added safety from having a licensed driver in the passenger’s seat. While the license itself does give a person the legal right to drive, the presence of a licensed driver near the CLP holder (or at least in the passenger seat) has not been shown to prevent accidents.
The change was made official after the publishing of the new rule in the Federal Register on June 27th. The updated CDL rule will be in effect for the carrier until 2022.