Final rule on learners’ permits takes aim at CDL fraud

| 5/5/2011

A final rule issued Thursday by the FMCSA calls for new standards for CDL and commercial learners’ permits. In addition to creating new entry-level standards, the rule also aims to cut down on CDL fraud.

The proposal would require a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holder to meet virtually the same standard requirements as those for a CDL holder, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

“It will enhance safety by ensuring that only qualified drivers are allowed to operate commercial vehicles on our nation’s highways,” regulators stated in the final rule submitted to the Federal Register on Thursday, May 5.

OOIDA supports efforts to improve driver training requirements, including graduated licensing and apprenticeship programs.

“OOIDA believes that such a program would allow new truck drivers to gain controlled exposure to progressively more difficult driving experiences as they move through a series of licensing stages, resulting in better trained and more safety-conscious drivers,” Association President and CEO Jim Johnston stated in comments to FMCSA’s proposed version of the rule in 2008.

Under the final rule being issued, all CLP holders must pass a test requiring knowledge in 20 general areas. These include pre-trip inspections, maintenance requirements, safety systems, backing, basic maneuvers, communications, speed, stopping distance, placarding, and “the effects of fatigue, poor vision, hearing impairment, and general health upon safe commercial motor vehicle operation.”

The final rule also tackles fraud in third-party testing. The regulations will require all third-party testers to maintain a bond that can be used to pay for retesting of students who lose their CDLs because of fraudulent activity by the testing facility. The regulation also mandates annual on-site inspections of testing facilities and weekly reports on testing activities.

A provision in the final rule to require testing to be done in English only is aimed at cutting down on CDL fraud, as well. The specifically prohibits the use of interpreters in the testing process.

The final rule on CDL testing and learners’ permits takes effect in 60 days, and states must be in compliance by July 8, 2014. Petitions for reconsideration are due within 30 days. The docket number is FMCSA-2007-27659.