Coalition objects to driver test restriction

Industry groups have asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider a final rule that would, with one exception, prevent third-party testers from administering skills tests to applicants trained at the testers’ commercial school.

The American Trucking Associations, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, Truckload Carriers Association and the Professional Truck Driver Institute filed a Petition for Reconsideration May 31 with the FMCSA.

The coalition wants to reconsider the prohibition contained in the May 9 Commercial Learners’ Permits rule, effective June 8. The FMCSA will allow an exception if the nearest alternative third-party tester or state skills testing facility is more than 50 miles from the training school.

The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the petition, but stated in the rule that the provision is intended to reduce the chance of fraud and bias in testing.

The FMCSA did not provide opportunity for commentators on the 2008 proposal to respond to the new stipulation inserted in the rule, which they say lacks a valid cost/benefit analysis. “It will substantially impact literally hundreds of training organizations that currently use third-party test administrators to test their students,” the petitioners said.

The rule provides adequate safeguards to insure the quality of third-party testers, the coalition said.

The May 9 rule notes Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association suggested the restriction in comments filed on the 2008 rule proposal. The statements were not noticed for comment by other parties before issuing the rule, the organizations said.

“The agency provides no evidence that this provision is necessary, or that it will result in improvements in highway safety,” they wrote.

California does not permit third-party testing and currently has testing appointments back-logged for 45 days, the groups added.

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