The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is renewing an exemption for C.R. England (No. 19 on the CCJ Top 250) that allows its student drivers who have passed a CDL skills test to drive trucks without a CDL holder in the front seat.
The exemption, which was originally granted in June 2015, allows commercial learner’s permit holders that have passed the CDL skills test but not yet received their CDL to drive a C.R. England truck while a CDL holder is in the truck, but not necessarily in the front seat, effectively allowing a team operation.
Federal regulations state that a driver accompanying a CLP holder has to physically be in the front seat while the permit-holder is driving at all times. C.R. England says the exemption allows the drivers to continue working and earning money until they can get back to their home state to obtain their CDL.
In its renewal application, the fleet stated that 3,046 had utilized the exemption since it was granted, and its data showed drivers using the exemption “demonstrated better safety outcomes than non-exempt drivers.” FMCSA says through the end of 2016, the carrier reported 11 accidents involving drivers using the exemption, none of which resulted in a fatality.
The renewal is effective from June 13, 2017, through June 12, 2022, but FMCSA is still seeking public comment on the renewal of the exemption. Comments can be made through July 12.
Affected trucks include model year 2008-2018 Freightliner Cascadia and Western Star 4700, 4900, 5700 and 6900 trucks. DTNA says after hard brake applications, the brake light pressure switch may not activate the brake lights with the light application of the brake pedal.