CRST seeks passenger-seat exemption for trainees headed home Thinkstock

CRST seeks passenger-seat exemption for trainees headed home

CRST Expedited (CRST) has applied for an exemption from the provision in the federal code that requires a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holder to always be accompanied by a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder in the front seat of the vehicle during behind-the-wheel training on public roads. CRST would like the accompanying CDL holder to have the option of being in the sleeper portion of the cab while the trainee is driving.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted such an exemption to C.R. England last June.

As explained in the FMCSA notice to be published Tuesday, CRST contends that compliance with the CDL rule places them in “a very difficult position” regarding how they return the CLP holder who has passed his or her skills testing back to their state of domicile to obtain their CDL.

The two possible courses of action “are simple, yet costly,” according to the application: Either CRST sends CLP holders to their home state by public transportation to obtain the CDL and hopes the drivers return to CRST for employment; or CRST sends CLP holders back as passengers on its trucks.

CRST goes on to detail the negative consequences of these courses of action, including:

  1. the new drivers would suffer financially because it could be several days or even weeks before they obtain their home State CDL and are available to return to work;
  2. safety would be degraded in these situations because there will be a break in driving for CLP holders who have passed the skills test until they can receive their CDL and return to CRST to start work;
  3. increased costs to CRST for public transportation to return CLP holders who have passed the skills test in another State to their home State for issuance of the CDL;
  4. further financial loss as CRST would undoubtedly lose control of some CLP holders once they returned home and obtained their CDL—as they may find employment elsewhere, or in a different industry; and
  5. if CRST elected to send CLP holders who have passed their skills test home on a CRST truck, CRST must operate at double the cost for half of the productivity.

CRST also notes that only drivers who have already passed the CDL skills test would be exempted. CRST contends that the exemption would promote greater productivity and help individuals who have passed the CDL skills test return to actively earning a living faster “while achieving a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than the level of safety provided by complying with the regulations”—which is the standard by which FMCSA approved the similar request from C.R. England.

Public comments on the request will be accepted for 30 days following publication on the website. The docket number is FMCSA-2015-0480. 

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