Brandon Wiseman is a partner with Childress Law, PLLC, and president of Trucksafe Consulting, a provider of innovative DOT safety consulting services, resources, and training content.
Keeping our nation’s supply chain functioning has become a tall order as of late, particularly with COVID-related delays and shutdowns and the growing commercial driver shortage. For its part, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted certain waivers to help minimize some of the regulatory barriers that have exacerbated the problem. One such waiver, which the agency has renewed twice during the pandemic, removes some of the red tape that had previously prohibited state drivers’ licensing agencies from allowing third-party testers to administer CDL knowledge and skills tests.
Looking to help further alleviate the supply chain crisis, federal legislators have introduced two bills in Congress to further streamline the CDL process. The first bill, titled the Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently Act (“LICENSE Act”), would make permanent the aforementioned FMCSA waivers and allow third parties to continue to administer the CDL knowledge and skills test. It would also authorize state licensing agencies to administer skills test to out-of-state CDL applicants regardless of where they receive their CDL training, and would allow commercial learners’ permit holders to drive with another CDL holder anywhere in the truck—as opposed to just in the passenger seat—if the CLP holder has already passed the skills test.
The second bill, titled the Transportation Security Administration Security Threat Assessment Application Modernization Act (“TSA Act”), would direct the TSA to modify the transportation worker credentialing process, making it easier and cheaper for those workers to obtain their credentials.
Many industry groups have hailed these bills. ATA president Chris Spear commented, “by making common-sense changes to the CDL testing process and eliminating redundant background checks, we can cut red tape so these hardworking men and women can get on the road navigating our nation’s highways instead of navigating its bureaucracies.” In an email to its members, National Tank Truck Carriers observed, “NTTC is a proud supporter of the LICENSE Act, a solutions-driven bipartisan bill that will offer needed relief for the American public. NTTC stands ready to support its federal partners, including Congress and FMCSA, as the LICENSE Act is deliberated and implemented.”
While Congress is working to pass these bills, the FMCSA has said it plans to issue new rulemaking to “more fully address the states’ use of third-party knowledge testers.”
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