The Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-Takers Now Safely and Efficiently (LICENSE) Act (HR6567/S3556), sponsored by Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL18) and Sen. Cynthia M. Lummis (R-WY), is a top priority of the American Building Materials Alliance.
This bill would make permanent two waivers issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These waivers, discussed below, are vital to removing unnecessary regulatory roadblocks to providing Commercial Driver License (CDL) testing, as well as for allowing commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders who have not received their physical CDL to operate a commercial truck with a licensed CDL driver anywhere in the cab, not only the front.
The first is the Waiver for States Concerning Third Party CDL Skills Test Examiners in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency (Nov. 29, 2021). This waiver allowed third party CDL skills test examiners, who were previously authorized by the State to administer the CDL skills test, to administer the CDL knowledge test without completing a CDL knowledge test training course. This ensured there were enough people able to administer the CDL knowledge test while the State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLA) remained closed or operate at diminished capacity due to the pandemic.
The second is the Three-Month Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency – For States and CLP Holders Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles. This allowed a State to administer a driving skills test to any out of state CDL applicant, regardless of where the applicant received driver training. This waiver provides more flexibility to applicants seeking to obtain their CDLs and will streamline the credentialing process for drivers navigating the highly mobile nature of the trucking industry.
This waiver also allows a CLP holder who already passed the CDL driving skills test to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads and highways with an accompanying CDL holder in the sleeper berth. Current regulations require CLP holders to be accompanied by a licensed CDL holder in the front seat of the cab. CLP holders who have already completed Entry Level Driver Training and passed their road tests are only unable to drive alone because they have not received a physical copy of their CDL from SDLAs. The waiver simply allows CLP holders who are awaiting their CDLs—and who have otherwise completed all of the necessary training and testing —to be accompanied by a CDL holder anywhere in the cab.
As is required by law, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation determined that both waivers were in the public interest and were likely to achieve levels of safety that are equivalent to, or greater than, the levels of safety that would be obtained in the absence of the waivers. Especially in the context of the current supply chain disruptions, this bill is a critical tool to remove some of the arcane regulatory barriers that make the CDL training and testing process so arduous. Additionally, these waivers did not lead to any issues, thus indicating they can be made permanent without risking safety.