[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 2 (Tuesday, January 5, 2016)]
[Pages 291-292]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-33136]



Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2015-0480]

Commercial Driver's License Standards: Application for Exemption; 
CRST Expedited (CRST)

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of application for exemption; request for comments.


SUMMARY: FMCSA announces that CRST Expedited (CRST) has applied for an 
exemption from the requirement in 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) that requires a 
commercial learner's permit (CLP) holder to always be accompanied by a 
commercial driver's license (CDL) holder with the proper CDL class and 
endorsements seated in the front seat of the vehicle while the CLP 
holder performs behind-the-wheel training on public roads or highways. 
CRST requests an exemption to allow CLP holders who have successfully 
passed the CDL skills test to be able to drive a commercial motor 
vehicle (CMV) without having a CDL holder seated beside them in the 
CMV. CRST states that the CDL holder would remain in the CMV at all 
times while the CLP holder is driving, but not necessarily in the 
passenger seat. CRST believes that the exemption, if granted, 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. FMCSA 
requests public comment on CRST's application for exemption.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before February 4, 2016

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by Federal Docket 
Management System (FDMS) Number FMCSA-2015-0480 by any of the following 
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow 
the online instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Ground 
Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251
     Each submission must include the Agency name and the 
docket number for this notice. Note that DOT posts all comments 
received without change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information included in a comment. Please see the Privacy Act heading 
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit Room W12-140 
on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. The on-line Federal Docket Management System 
is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information 
the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information concerning this 
notice, contact Mr. Richard Clemente, FMCSA Driver and Carrier 
Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle Safety 
Standards; Telephone: 202-366-4325. Email: [email protected]. If you have 
questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact 
Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.


I. Public Participation and Request for Comments

    FMCSA encourages you to participate by submitting comments and 
related materials.

Submitting Comments

    If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this 
notice (FMCSA-2015-0480), indicate the specific section of this 
document to which the comment applies, and provide a reason for 
suggestions or recommendations. You may submit your comments and 
material online or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only 
one of these means. FMCSA recommends that you include your name and a 
mailing address, an email address, or a phone number in the body of 
your document so the Agency can contact you if it has questions 
regarding your submission.
    To submit your comments online, go to www.regulations.gov and put 
the docket number, ``FMCSA-2015-0480'' in the ``Keyword'' box, and 
click ``Search.'' When the new screen appears, click on ``Comment 
Now!'' button and type your comment into the text box in the following 
screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual 
or on behalf of a third party and then submit. An option to upload a 
file is provided. If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, 
submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, 
suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit comments by 
mail and would like to know that they reached the facility, please 
enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. FMCSA will 
consider all comments and material received during the comment period 
and may grant or not grant this application based on your comments.

[[Page 292]]

II. Legal Basis

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from certain parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Regulations. FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in 
the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the 
public an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the 
application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted. 
The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the 
    The Agency reviews safety analyses and public comments submitted, 
and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a 
level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of 
the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(b)) with the reasons for denying or granting the application 
and, if granted, the name of the person or class of persons receiving 
the exemption, and the regulatory provision from which the exemption is 
granted. The notice must also specify the effective period and explain 
the terms and conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed 
(49 CFR 381.300(b)).

III. Request for Exemption

    CRST is one of the nation's largest transportation companies with a 
fleet of more than 4,500 commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). CRST seeks 
an exemption from 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) that would allow CLP holders who 
have successfully passed a CDL skills test and are thus eligible to 
receive a CDL, to be able to drive without having a CDL holder seated 
beside them in the vehicle. CRST, however, indicates in their exemption 
request that the CDL holder will remain in the vehicle at all times 
while the CLP holder is driving--just not in the front seat. CRST 
further requests that the exemption include that the CLP holder could 
drive for the remainder of the time available on the driver's CLP 
before expiration, provided the driver can supply evidence of passing 
the CDL exam to law enforcement personnel. This would allow such a 
driver to operate more freely and in a way that benefits the driver, 
the carrier, and the economy as a whole.
    CRST states that FMCSA is aware that the trucking industry is 
facing a shortage of qualified and well-trained drivers to meet the 
ever-growing shipping demands. CRST believes that 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) 
limits its ability to effectively recruit, train, and employ new 
entrants to the trucking industry. Prior to the implementation of 
section 383.25(a)(1), States routinely issued temporary CDLs to drivers 
who passed the CDL skills test. The temporary CDL allowed CRST time to 
route the new driver to his or her State of domicile to obtain a CDL, 
and to place the new driver into an on-the-job training position with a 
driver-trainer. In this scenario, a more experienced driver could 
mentor and observe the new driver, but was not required to be on duty 
and in the front seat at all times. Thus, the new driver could become 
productive immediately, allowing more freight movement for CRST and 
compensation for the new driver.
    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. According to CRST, the two possible courses of action 
in this scenario are simple, yet costly: (1) CRST sends CLP holders to 
their home State by public transportation to obtain the CDL and hopes 
the drivers return to CRST for employment; and (2) CRST sends CLP 
holders back to their home State as passengers on one of 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 also 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 asserts that the exemption is consistent with FMCSA's comments 
in the preamble to the final rule published on May 9, 2011, that 
promulgated 49 CFR 383.25(a). The Agency said: ``FMCSA does not believe 
that it is safe to permit inexperienced drivers who have not yet passed 
the CDL skills test to drive unaccompanied.'' (76 FR 26861). The 
exemption sought would apply only to those CRST drivers who have passed 
the CDL skills test and hold a CLP.

IV. Method To Ensure an Equivalent or Greater Level of Safety

    CRST states that granting this exemption will result in a level of 
safety that is equal to or greater than the level of safety of the rule 
without the exemption. The practical result of the exemption is that a 
CLP holder who has passed a CDL skills test would be able to drive 
without the requirements of Sec.  383.25(a)(1) and begin immediate and 
productive on-the-job training. This allows these drivers to continue 
to use and sharpen their recently acquired driving skills and put them 
to work--in addition to immediately earning an income--under the 
mentoring and observation of a more experienced driver until they can 
return to their home State to be issued a CDL.
    In the June 11, 2015, Federal Register, FMCSA granted a similar 
exemption from 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) to C.R. England, Inc. Under the 
terms and conditions of that exemption, a CLP holder who has 
documentation of passing the CDL skills test may drive a CMV for C.R. 
England without being accompanied by a CDL holder in the front seat. 
The Agency believed that C.R. England's request for exemption would 
achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the 
level of safety achieved without the exemption (80 FR 33329).
    A copy of CRST's application for exemption is available for review 
in the docket for this notice.

    Issued on: December 18, 2015.
Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2015-33136 Filed 1-4-16; 8:45 am]