The primary State of Emergency exemption from the COVID-19 pandemic, the one regarding waiving hours-of-service requirements within reason, has long since passed, but its smaller brother, a waiver that enables some third-party CDL skill tests examiners to also conduct CDL knowledge tests, is still ongoing. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wants to stop it.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, created and signed into law in direct response to late-2021 port backlogs, commanded the FMCSA to consider making the waiver for CDL tests to be done by the same examiner permanent. The FMCSA’s report to Congress that it released at the end of May says that it feels this is not a good idea.
While the FMCSA was on board with having the waiver to increase shipments during the COVID-19 emergency, in part because having goods delivered would result in fewer people going outside to spread the virus, it stated that having it permanently is an entirely different animal.
“Making the…provisions permanent is another matter entirely and calls for consideration of a comprehensive regulatory framework applicable to the states’ discretionary use of third party knowledge examiners, subject to public notice and comment.”
In other words, the FMCSA feels that it is better that this case is handled on a state-by-state basis based on available resources, rather than a blanket rule that applies to every new trucker in the nation going after a Commercial Driver’s License.
Because the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 only required the FMCSA to consider the benefits of the looser regulation in their decision to make the waiver permanent, that means the FMCSA has done its part. Because the FMCSA feels that the ends do not justify the means, that means this waiver may be coming to an end soon.
At the same time, however, the FMCSA has said it is working on a proposed rulemaking to set baseline standards for states in regulating their own CDL testing, and enabling them each to decide beyond that baseline as to whether or not the skills examiner and knowledge tester can be the same entity.
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