Under the current system of rules, third-party companies such as private truck-driving schools could not be both the trainer and the examiner for a driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to publish a Final Rule in the Federal Register changing this. The new regulations will make it so that the trainer and tester can be one and the same.
The Department of Transportation cites the trucker shortage and the coronavirus pandemic as reasons for the change, according to their press release on December 17th.
“During the COVID-19 public health emergency truckers have been American heroes—and the Department is committed to helping our economy by reducing unnecessary barriers for those interested in obtaining jobs in the trucking industry,” said. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
The regulators of heavy-duty trucks hope that, by allowing states to decide whether or not the trainer can also be the examiner, more truckers will be on the road in the coming years.
“Under Secretary Chao’s leadership, the Trump Administration has continued to examine ways to provide common-sense regulatory reform and help individuals seeking to enter the commercial driver industry. This new rule will provide states more flexibility during the ongoing public health emergency to test Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) applicants and allow more drivers to safely enter the industry,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck.
While this change will lead to more truckers on the road, it is debatable whether or not the change is truly “common-sense.” Allowing for the school that trains the driver to also test them could create a conflict of interest, as the private trainer would have an incentive to pass them so they can tout higher graduation rates. If drivers who are not properly trained are granted CDLs, many chances for disaster arise involving an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer combo.
The decision to allow this is up for each state to decide, so California may be against the notion while Nevada is not.
The Final Rule becomes official sixty days after it is published in the Federal Register. This means it will not become official before February 15th, at the very least. When it becomes official, Pete Buttigieg will likely have his head of the FMCSA reverse the regulation in the name of safety over jobs. We will have to wait and see what happens in the next four months.