WASHINGTON – Certain commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders driving for megacarrier Werner Enterprises, Inc. will be allowed to operate without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder in the passenger seat, according to a new ruling from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which granted the ruling this week.
The exemption has been previously granted to other trucking companies, including CR England, CRST and New Prime and only applies to permit holders who have passed the CDL skills test but have not yet obtained the CDL document from their home state.
The CDL holder also will have to remain in the vehicle but will not be required to sit in the front seat.
A filing on the Federal Register states that the FMCSA “has analyzed the exemption application and the public comments and has determined that the exemption, subject to the terms and conditions imposed, will likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption.”
Werner contends that an exemption from this regulation will benefit the company and trucking industry in three ways: Improving efficiency of freight operations by maximizing driver employment during an historic driver shortage; creating immediate employment and compensation opportunities to qualified drivers; and improving the overall safety of the new driver experience, according to the Federal Register posting.
“Werner believes it will face a significant burden in all three areas if this exemption is not granted,” the post states.
“Werner asserts that 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) has created a significant burden on its operations. Prior to the implementation of the regulation, a new driver’s State of domicile issued temporary CDLs to drivers who passed the CDL skills test. The temporary CDL made it possible for Werner to place the new driver as ‘on duty’ and route him or her to the state of domicile to obtain a CDL without entering a second driver into an ‘on duty’ status, thus allowing productive freight movement for Werner and compensation for the new driver.”
Werner officials said they believe that applying the exemption only to drivers who have passed the CDL skills test, hold a CLP, and operate the CMV under supervision of a CDL holder who is somewhere in the vehicle, will ensure an equivalent level of safety.
“Werner believes that there is no difference between the CLP holders who have passed the CDL skills test and other truck drivers on the road,” according to the Federal Register post.
“In fact, Werner notes that by allowing a CLP holder who has passed the CDL skills test out of State to drive en route to their State of domicile with a CDL holder present in the vehicle, safety will be improved over current regulations, which allow a new CDL holder to drive unsupervised immediately after receiving his or her CDL documentation. Werner will ensure this level of safety by maintaining proper, up-to-date records for all drivers in possession of a CLP who have passed the CDL skills test.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) opposed the measure, calling it “another example of large carriers using the false premise of a driver shortage to get around safety regulations.”
OOIDA argues that there is not a driver shortage and contends the issue is a driver retention problem that could be fixed by improving pay and working conditions.
“In reality, evidence from the federal government and industry analysis show that driver turnover is the problem,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President Todd Spencer.
“For one, FMCSA estimates that over 400,000 new commercial driver’s licenses are issued every year. On top of that, the U.S. Department of Labor did not find any indications of a driver shortage when examining the issue in 2019. Instead, they identified the high turnover experienced by large carriers as one reason for the perception of a shortage.”
The Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), American Trucking Associations (ATA), Idaho-Oregon Fruit and Vegetable Association, Truckload Carriers Association, truck drivers and some individuals submitted comments supporting Werner’s application for exemption.
For example, AgTC said, “The AgTC supports Werner’s application for exemption to allow commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders who have successfully passed the commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test to be able to drive a CMV without having a CDL holder seated beside them in the CMV.”
The ATA stated, “Given the ongoing driver shortage, ATA is vitally interested in removing employment barriers to increase efficiency without hindering safety. As such, ATA appreciates the opportunity to comment on this important petition.
Specifically, ATA believes that granting Werner’s exemption would achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety, mitigate the impact of state driver’s licensing agency (SDLA) processing delays, address the needs of a mobile workforce, and minimize costs and burdens for the trucking industry.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
This is a bad idea, the skills test is only a tiny portion of the reality of what the CLP will really face out there on the road.
Totally agree what they experience in a parking lot with Orange cones Will not prepare a driver for the open road weather conditions and careless drivers we contend with every day this is a disaster waiting to happen
It’s about time they changed it to
“and operate the CMV under supervision of a CDL holder who is somewhere in the vehicle”
Right there is the problem. It’s been almost 20 years since I worked for Werner but I doubt like hell their training program has changed any since then. The “CDL holder” was always in the back asleep while I drove because Werner, like everyone else, runs the truck as a team truck.
Not that it matters in this situation. The drivers they want to exempt have already passed their written test and skills road test and are simply waiting for the CDL to officially arrive in the mail. I don’t know why anyone would want to go right out without their CDL, especially with large carriers that can send you anywhere in North America but whatever. I understand they’re anxious and want to start driving right away but they’re going to soon learn why the turn over is so bad in this industry. Studies have shown the overwhelming majority of new drivers wash out after 3 weeks of starting their OTR training. So by the time their CDL arrives in the mail, they’ll be at home anyway looking for something else other than trucking.
Unlicensed riders in a CMV are allowed in that vehicle as long as they have no duty or responsibility in the operation of a CMV most companies only require a rider policy. This new amendment only ensures that a CDL holder will not get any rest in a sleeper birth while a CLP is at the wheel. I can see this amendment being overturned in the event of a rookie getting into a serious accident enough times and the insurance companies raising rates out of control.
The problem isnt a driver shortage and companies do not need this exception. Werner in particular needs to not treat their employees like hot garbage and actually take care of their drivers.
I agree with most everyone all big companies always find ways to manipulate the system already in place, in order for u to be in the passenger seat if you are going to be learning u have to have at least passed the writing test an medical an your trainer has to be in the passenger seat while you drive in case there’s an emergency situation i when to class for six months first thing had my driving record pull make sure didn’t had any DUI’s or other problems with it then after a month or so when to dmv pass my writing test an medical test then my driving instructor started to take us out driving on the streets had to take turns with others and when ready when to dmv an pass my skills driving test, after two months finally got my first job for a Hazardous materials company but couldn’t get hired till i got my background check an clear to make sure i wasn’t any threat to to drive for them an still spend about a month an half riding with a co driver before they let me go on my own . I try training some guys that got their license through other school that got it in one month but didn’t make the cut u can tell couldn’t even do a fair pre trip when making turns i would advise them always check your blind spots make your right turns wider an check for vehicles trying to cut u off , some just couldn’t even get the gears right even after a week just bad schools they got their license. Don’t know how they keep teaching.
more wrecks more idiots we gotta watch out for…. i really wish I could retire…..
Why is it the worst companies are allowed to do this? And since when does it take so long after you pass a test to get your cdl? I went to dmv same day I passed and got my license… thats why there is a difference between truck drivers and steering wheel holders with their flip flop on and their foot on the dash while driving down the road
Let me tell you a kick in the assss I’m retired I can drive to a 18 wheeler without a CDL as long as I’m not working commercial I got Alabama drivers license in illionis you got to got a airbrake license in Alabama I can drive up to 26000 pds with my class D license is here in illionis 16000 you got to get a class c I’m keeping my Alabama license I drive back and forth anyway to Alabama an every few months anyway though it is a federal law up to 26000 pds without CDL I don’t need a CDL fishing
Wow, it come down to efficiency over safety…in my experience, even the licensed CDL drivers that drive for Werner are terrible drivers, much like all super carriers….the idea that super carriers will now be allowed to do this terrifies me to no end….this will just be another situation that will be created to shut us all down in the end…
As a driver recruiter AND being married to a trucker for 36 yrs, this is the stupidest thing I have seen. This is so unsafe. Maybe 20 yrs ago you could have done this, but not with todays new drivers. I deal with drivers who are afraid to ride a bus to orientation, who can’t find there hotel when at orientation, who can’t pass a driving test when starting a new job (drived had 3 months experience), drivers who can’t back but ben driving awhile. Come on, seriously? What about all the innocent people on the road with them. We know who got heavy pockets.
I went to work for Werner as a team.once we found a dispatcher who could keep us moving they fired my co_driver for having a scanner in the truck..ran solo for a little while..couldnt make enough money to justify my being on the road..was on my way home to end my employment when they offered me a training position..i figured what the hell…i had 25yrs of experience.why not pass it on…what a mistake that was..my first student had 300hrs of training and couldn’t even get outta the parking lot..my hair turned grey from the stress.after my third student I figured it was time to find another job….i took a leave of absence and never looked back..that was 25yrs ago…best I can tell everyone is…pass em quick as you can and don’t look back